|Campbell: ‘I couldn’t make up’ rule to suspend Cooke||03.12.10 at 9:32 am ET|
NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell was a guest of the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to discuss his decision not to suspend Penguins forward Matt Cooke for his hit to the head of Bruins center Marc Savard that may have ended Savard’s season (listen to the interview here). Said Campbell: “Look, it certainly wasn’t the popular decision, but you can’t do this job and try to be a good guy or popular all the time. You have to use criteria and try to be consistent. In our thinking it was the right thing, but not the popular thing, for sure.”
Added Campbell: “It’s not my line of thinking. We meet regularly with the general managers. We have criteria we use on these hits. And cheap shot, head shot is elbows, sticks. In hockey, shoulder checks are allowed.”
Asked why he couldn’t have used intent to injure as a reason, Campbell replied: “We looked at everything. When you say intent to injure … you have to have a reason to attach the intent to injure to something.”
Campbell said his staff agreed on the decision but made his displeasure with Cooke known. “Our staff agreed, it was a consensus, even though we didn’t like it, we don’t like Cooke, we don’t like the way he plays and some things he does,” Campbell said. “We couldn’t find criteria that was consistent with suspending him.”
Campbell said he has a personal connection to Savard that made this decision even more difficult. “You think I like what happened to Marc Savard? I coached him, I was his first coach with the New York Rangers when Marc broke in,” Campbell said. “I didn’t like what happened to Marc Savard. No one liked what happened. And you would like to do something to the player that did it. But you have to stay consistent, and I can’t make up a rule for a play. In this case, I couldn’t make it up.”
As for suggestions that the Bruins will get revenge during their rematch with the Penguins next Thursday, Campbell brought up the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore situation from February and March of 2004. In that case, Moore, an Avalanche forward, checked a Canucks player, causing a concussion, but was not penalized or suspended. In the rematch — coincidentally, after Cooke, then a member of the Canucks, fought Moore in the first period — Bertuzzi went after Moore and punched and pulled him down from behind, causing a fractured neck that ended Moore’s career. Bertuzzi was suspended and pleaded guilty to assault, and Moore filed a lawsuit against Bertuzzi and the Canucks that still is in the court system. “You want to take justice in your hands,” Campbell said. “Next thing you know you’ve a real mess on your hands when Bertuzzi broke Moore’s neck.”
|Chiarelli: Loss of Savard ‘devastating’||03.12.10 at 6:53 am ET|
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said before Thursday’s game that center Marc Savard will likely miss the rest of the season as a result of the Grade 2 concussion he suffered against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. That assessment came after Savard met with MGH neuropsychologist Kelly McInnis and showed little improvement in his symptoms since suffering the Matt Cooke hit.
“There is a good chance that Marc may be out for the rest of the year,” Chiarelli told reporters. “He is one of our best players, so it is devastating to us.”
Savard’s mother, Rollande Savard, told the Ottawa Citizen that she was incensed by the hit and the failure to suspend Cooke.
“It’s just so hard to see that. I really thought he was dead and I saw the stretcher come out,” she told the paper. “If I would have been there, I would have hit him myself. [Cooke] tried to take Marc out. He should be out. That kid shouldn’t be playing. He should be penalized. We all know it shouldn’t be allowed in the game and we hear this stuff about new rules taking effect next year.
“That’s bull. Do something now. That guy [Cooke] is laughing at everyone. My son could be out forever. Who knows? With this Matt Cooke, do something right now. He’s hit guys like that before. He has a track record.”
|Campbell lets Cooke skate free||03.10.10 at 3:55 pm ET|
NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell announced Wednesday afternoon that Penguins forward Matt Cooke will not be penalized for his hit to Marc Savard’s head Sunday that left the Bruins center with a concussion. Campbell noted that he did not suspend Philadelphia’s Mike Richards for a similar hit on Florida’s David Booth in October. That hit caused Booth to miss 45 games.
Campbell said that if proposed new rules are in place next season, Cooke would have received a suspension.
Prior to the decision, Cooke spoke with reporters following Pittsburgh’s practice and expressed concern for Savard. “I made efforts to contact him,” Cooke said, according to the team’s website. “I did as much as I could.”
Asked what he thought while watching a replay of the hit, Cooke said: “I didn’t see anything different than the way it happened in the game. I tried to finish my check.”
Added Cooke: “I think there needs to be black and white rules because my hit was technically within the rulebook. No one likes to see anybody get hurt, whether it is your team or somebody else’s. It’s an unfortunate part of our game with the speed it is played at now. I think [general managers] are having a meeting right now. The important thing is finding out what the right wording or rule is. Hopefully something comes out of it.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma also weighed in on the situation. “I think no one likes to see the severity of that injury,” he said. “Nobody likes to see a player down on the ground like that. I hope that I go the rest of my games on the bench not seeing something like that again. It’s a difficult situation for players to be in. I know Savard is going to try and score a goal, and Matt Cooke is going to try and go out and stop a guy from scoring a goal when there is five minutes left to go in the game, and you’re up 2-1. That’s the nature of our game and at the speed we play, it’s the physicality of our game. Those are great things about our game, and it’s tough. I think we’ve tried to do it in the past and it’s still gray. It’s just something that we’ve talked about for a while now. We’re still working on it and still trying to come up with verbiage that is clarified for players with the puck and players without the puck.”
|Thornton on D&C: No one should ‘push us around’||03.10.10 at 9:40 am ET|
UPDATED AT 1:30 WITH MORE FROM INTERVIEW
Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning (listen to the interview here) to talk about the Marc Savard situation and explain why none of his teammates responded when the center was felled by a hit to the head from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on Sunday.
Asked why no one had Savard’s back after he got knocked cold, Thornton said: “That’s a great question. I think when the incident happened, I don’t think a lot of people knew it happened, because it happened late, and I think everyone was focused on the puck. That being said, though, when you see your star player on the ice, the response I feel should be immediate by somebody that’s on the ice.” Added Thornton: “I don’t want to take anything away from my teammates or bad-mouth anyone at all, [but] I’m pretty positive if I was on the ice something different might have happened, though.”
Thornton said he was on the bench and did not see the hit when it happened as it was behind the play. “I think the hit was a couple of seconds late — that probably being the dirtiest part of it,” Thornton said. “I was focused on the puck, also. But I did see Savvy laying there, and I wasn’t very happy about it.”
Thornton explained why no one went after Cooke later in the game. “That happened with about 5:30 to go in the game, I think. [Cooke] had one more shift. The rules being the way they are nowadays, it’s tough to go and rectify a situation with under five minutes. I think it’s a $10,000 fine for the team and a $5,000 fine for the coach and then a suspension or a fine for the player, too. So, it’s tough to do it at that point of the game, especially when it’s 2-1 and you’re trying to win, too. But I agree, something should have happened. When someone turned around and saw Savvy laying there, I think it should have been addressed, too.”
Added Thornton: ”I know guys that were on the ice were very upset after the game. We have a good bunch of guys here. Everything happened in a split-second. You’ve got to realize the refs get in there really quick sometimes. I’d have to see the replay to really know the exact details of it. When you see a teammate laying there, we care about each other, and I’m sure it might have been a little bit different [in retrospect].”
Thornton warned not to expect someone to jump Cooke if the Penguins forward is on the ice when the teams meet again March 18 at TD Garden. “There’s not much you can do, the way the league is,” Thornton said. “You wait and see what [league disciplinarian Colin Campbell] does with the decision, I suppose, and that’s about all you can do. The way the game is, it’s not like it was 10, 20 years ago, where you could just go put five guys out on the ice the next time he comes into town and beat the snot out of him, because you’ll end up getting a bigger suspension than he did for hitting him. The game’s changed a bit that way. Do I agree with it? No, I’m kind of old school. I’m more an eye-for-an-eye guy on the ice. That’s the way it is nowadays. So, I guess you just come back and play and put it in the back of your mind. I don’t know. You take care of it when you can. But I doubt it will be a retaliation right away like people expect, because you just can’t get away with that anymore, unfortunately.”
Thornton also noted that Cooke isn’t likely to accept an invitation to fight. “He has a track record of doing things and then not backing them up,” Thornton said. “So, I think it’s a little easier said than done. I would have no problem grabbing him and defending my teammate, but I think he would just fall to the ground and the refs would get in there and nothing would get accomplished anyways.”
Asked about comments from Mike Milbury on Tuesday’s Dale & Holley show that the Bruins are soft, Thornton was caught off guard. “I id not hear that. I don’t know what to say, because I just heard it two seconds ago. I don’t agree with him, obviously. I think that when we have everyone healthy and everyone in the lineup I think we’re probably one of the toughest teams in the league,” he said.
Thornton also didn’t agree with critical comments from Don Cherry after Milan Lucic had his nose broken in a fight with Toronto’s Colton Orr last week. Cherry implied that Lucic wanted the refs to bail him out. “I wasn’t a big fan of that [analysis],” Thornton said. “I thought it was a good fight. They both let go of each other and I thought the refs did a good job of getting in there at the right time. I watched the fight over to see … what he was getting at, and I honestly didn’t see it.”
Asked if the B’s lack of response should send any kind of message to the rest of the league, Thornton replied: “It better not. I’ll go on the record and say that nobody should be coming into our building trying to push us around. I don’t have [any] time for that.”
Thornton responded to an audio clip of NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell saying Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard appeared to be legal, meaning that Cooke likely will be in the lineup when Pittsburgh comes to TD Garden on March 18th.
“Well, I thought he would be anyway,” Thornton said. “It was very similar to the [Mike] Richards hit on [David] Booth and I know Richards didn’t have the priors that Matt Cooke did. I know that the decision is going to come down today, but I assumed he wasn’t going to be getting the 20-game suspension that would put him out of their lineup for the rest of the year anyway.
When asked about what such a reaction means for the league, particularly since general managers are meeting and discussing hits to the head, Thornton said that he sees them trying to change the game. ”I guess they are trying to turn the page on the way the game used to be,” he said. “I understand it; it’s tough. I guess his elbow didn’t come up — I thought it was a little bit late personally — but if it is a shoulder to the head, there technically isn’t a rule for that now. I guess that is what they are discussing and they should be.
“But at the end of the day I think it has to come down to the players in the league,” he added. “I’m a big believer in finishing your check and playing as hard as you can, but going out with the intent to injure someone, I think that says something about us internally. Yeah, we are on different teams, but when you think about it, there are 800-something guys in this league and we are supposed to all be on the same page. Trying to go out and hurt guys for the sake of hurting them, I don’t agree with that.”
Thornton was also asked if he thinks that coach Claude Julien might tell his players to leave Cooke alone when the two teams meet. He said that he is ”going to assume nothing is said. I won’t know until we get closer, obviously, but I think nowadays when you are at this level, you are supposed to know what to do and you don’t need to be told what to do or you would probably be back in the minors, where I was for the first 600 games.”
The issue of the Bruins’ lack of response to the play has been a hot topic, but Thornton said he does not believe that it will cause problems in the locker room upon Savard’s return. “I think that is a little overstated. Everyone here has the best intentions, and sometimes things happen quickly and you can’t change it,” he said. “There is no point in dwelling on it, and Savvy is not that type of guy. He knows we are all in this together and he is a great guy, so I don’t think there is any tension at all in this locker room.”
Thornton was asked about whether he thought about trying to get revenge in Tuesday night’s game on the Maple Leaf’s Colton Orr for the broken nose he gave Milan Lucic. Thornton said the thought had crossed his mind.
“[Orr] is their tough guy and I’m ours,” he said. “That being said though, Lucic is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds and can handle himself with the best of them. It crossed my mind, but at the end of the day I didn’t think it was necessary. I think Looch challenged him or he challenged Looch and at the end of the day I thought it was a great fight. Looch got a busted nose out of it, but if you had to exact revenge every time someone got a busted nose there would be a fight every game. I’ve had mine busted a few times, too. So it was a good fight — two tough guys going at it — so I had no problem with that.
|Milbury on D&H: Suspension unlikely for Cooke||03.09.10 at 12:09 pm ET|
NESN analyst Mike Milbury was a guest of the Dale & Holley show Tuesday morning to talk about the Bruins and the Marc Savard controversy (listen to the interview here). Asked whether Penguins forward Matt Cooke should be suspended for his hit to the head that gave Savard a concussion, Milbury said he need to take another look at the play, but: “Given the rules of the game today, I don’t think it’s a suspendable offense.”
Milbury offered an explanation and defense for Cooke. Said Milbury: “The word predatory does come to mind. And you know, I don’t have any trouble with that. When you’re playing hockey, you’re supposed to finish your checks. I don’t think he meant to give him a Grade 2 concussion. That’s Matt Cooke’s game. He’s supposed to be a guy that finishes his checks, that agitates a little bit, that can play a little bit of hockey. He’s not a slug, But he’s no Sidney Crosby. His job is to make sure he punishes people when he gets the opportunity. Intent to injure? I don’t know. That’s a hard one to pin on anybody. Certainly, ready to finish his check with authority.”
Milbury said the Bruins’ lack of a response after the check was disheartening. “Your best offensive player goes down with a resounding check — borderline check under any circumstances, maybe cheap, maybe intentional. It requires a direct response immediately,” he said, adding. “I blame the players who were on the ice at that time. You have to take accountability for the guys who are on the ice. … The guys that are there have to recognize that there’s been a code violation, if you will. … They should have gone right after the perpetrator or even gone after anyone else that was on the ice to rattle the cage. You can’t be taken advantage of that way. The players on the ice have to look in the mirror after this is over and say, ‘Dammit, we should have done something. We should have done it right away.’ And the coach has to back them up on that.”
However, Milbury cautioned about overreacting. “I think we got caught up here in Grapes [Don Cherry] mania. Like, you’ve got to die in order to satisfy the blood lust in the stands,” he said. “That’s not my schtick.” The former B’s coach said he was disgusted to hear people saying the Bruins should have attempted to cause a serious injury to Pittsburgh’s star players in retaliation. “That’s just ridiculous,” he said. “Are we that demented? Is that the way we have to approach this sport? I don’t think so.” Added Milbury: “To say that because your best player went down you have to immediately turn around and go after vigilante justice is Neanderthal. We’ve got to get past that.”
Added Milbury: “I think they should have had a quick and immediate response, especially to go after Cooke and then continue to play the damn game with the kind of authority that they should have gone into the game playing with. That’s my point. But to think we have to go back to, ‘They hurt one of our best players, so now we’re going to go take out Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby by giving them cheap shots in the back of the head,’ that’s Philadelphia Flyers hockey in the ’70s. We’re past that. We should be past that, and if we ever revert to that, it’s the day I stop watching the damn game. Because that isn’t right. It’s just not right.”
Asked whether captain Zdeno Chara needs to be more of a physical presence for the Bruins, Milbury said: “Because he’s 6-foot-8, we’re asking him to be 30 minutes a game, fight, physical — we’re asking a lot of this guy. And last year he delivered. But it doesn’t come naturally to him. He’s got to force it. But the team needs him to be more physical, yes. They need him to occasionally fight.”
Asked whether the Bruins are too soft, Milbury said yes. “They played a much more physical game last year up and down the roster,” he said. “And I think when they do find their way back to it, they’ll be a better team offensively.”
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