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Andrew Ference ready to return from suspension 02.01.12 at 6:12 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Andrew Ference has always prided himself on being a clean player, so is he worried his reputation has been tarnished after his three-game suspension for his hit on Rangers forward Ryan McDonagh?

“I don’t have to register in my neighborhood, so… I still think it’s alright,” Ference said after Wednesday’s practice.

Ference finished serving the suspension, the first of his career, Tuesday night against the Senators. He likened sitting the games out to being an injured player, as he was anxious to get back on the ice but was forced to watch the games from the press box. After plenty of time off (because the All-Star break came in the middle of the suspension, Ference might have a bit more rust after going 11 days without game action), but he’s done the typical things — mainly extra work in practice — to stay sharp.

Ference was suspended by league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan for pushing McDonagh into the end boards when the two were chasing the puck in the Rangers’ zone in overtime on Jan. 21. Ference has repeatedly expressed regret over how the play unfolded, but maintains that he wouldn’t approach a similar play differently.

“I mean, there’s not a whole lot of options,” Ference said. “The thing about that play is — and I kind of, just for my own amusement watched the games — and that type of play happens a lot in the game. It doesn’t usually result in a guy falling. It’s usually a little slower speed, but that situation happens all the time and situations where guys can fall awkwardly. It’s a common thing, it just doesn’t happen that often because guys have good balance and stay up. Next time I’ll get the puck and score I guess.

“Every situation is different, but honestly, if that situation happens, you try to let up and you try to do what I did. You don’t plant them into the boards, you try to let up as much as possible and hope things work out.”

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Don Cherry on D&C: Matt Cooke is ‘a little rat,’ Mario Lemieux ‘one of the biggest phonies’ 03.22.11 at 9:20 am ET
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CBC hockey commentator Don Cherry joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the Matt Cooke suspension, what could happen the next time Zdeno Chara travels to Montreal and the recent slide of the Bruins.

After a seven-game winning streak that seemed to announce the Bruins as serious Stanley Cup contenders, the club has struggled, posting a 1-3-3 mark in its last seven games. Cherry was asked if the Bruins were built for a deep postseason run.

“There’s something wrong there,” said Cherry, who coached the Bruins from 1974-79. “Right now, there’s something wrong with that team. When they came into Toronto, and they were absolutely awful. But if you’re going to take a swoon, this is the time to do it. I would like to see [Shawn] Thornton play. He hasn’t played that much since [Chris] Kelly came to Boston. … I would play Thornton a regular shift because he’s the Bruins for sure.”

The NHL suspended Penguins forward Cooke for the final 10 games of the regular season plus the entire first round of the playoffs on Monday, the fifth suspension in Cooke’s 12-year career. Cooke, of course, was not suspended for the elbow to the head of Marc Savard last year, which directly caused what might turn out to be a career-ending concussion for the Bruins center. Cherry feels if Cooke had been properly disciplined for the Savard hit it might have prevented the elbow to Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh that led to Cooke’s suspension.

“He should have been tossed for what happened to Savard, but they said they didn’t have a rule,” Cherry said. “The guy never even got four minutes or anything for that. If he had got [suspended for] 20 games then, maybe he would have been straightened out. He should have been suspended for what he did to Savard and he got his comeuppance. … They should have given him 20-30 games back then and it might have straightened the little rat out.”

Cherry added that Mario Lemieux, who complained about dirty play following last month’s game against the Islanders, is “one of the biggest phonies I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“He says, ‘we have to get ride of headshots,’ and the [president], Dave Morehouse, says ‘we have to get rid of headshots,’ and [general manager] Ray Shero, who I really like, says the same thing. What happens? They’ve got the [biggest] headshot guy of all time, they’re paying his paychecks. What a bunch of hypocrites, I’ll tell you.”

Chara was not suspended for his March 8 hit of Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, who suffered a concussion and a non-displaced fracture of cervical vertebrae. This led to outrage throughout Montreal, and Montreal police did open a criminal investigation against Chara. Cherry was asked if the Boston defenseman has reason to be concerned about future trips to Montreal.

“Who’s going to arrest him? That’s not going to happen. And the Canadiens have really have nobody to do anything to him,” Cherry said. “Who would? And if the game is close, nothing is going to happen. He’s too big, too strong. … There’s no way he did that to that guy [on purpose], he was just taking that guy out. And I really give it to the owners — the Molsons — they didn’t have enough padding on that turnbuckle. It should have been padded, the kid would have bounced right off.”

To hear the interview, click here.

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Matt Cooke suspended for remainder of regular season and first round of playoffs for elbow on Ryan McDonagh 03.21.11 at 5:26 pm ET
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Matt Cooke will miss at least 14 games. (AP)

The NHL announced Monday Penguins forward Matt Cooke has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs for an elbow on Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh that took place Sunday. It is the fourth suspension of Cooke’s career, and second of this season.

“Mr. Cooke, a repeat offender, directly and unnecessarily targeted the head of an opponent who was in an unsuspecting and vulnerable position,” Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said following the ruling. “This isn’t the first time this season that we have had to address dangerous behavior on the ice by Mr. Cooke, and his conduct requires an appropriately harsh response.”

The Penguins weren’t looking too good when Mario Lemieux, who employs Cooke, complained about dirty play following the team’s game against the Islanders last month. This time around, the Pittsburgh organization wants to make sure everyone knows where they stand.

“The suspension is warranted because that’s exactly the kind of hit we’re trying to get out of the game,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said in a statement Monday. “Head shots have no place in hockey. We’ve told Matt in no uncertain terms that this kind of action on the ice is unacceptable and cannot happen. Head shots must be dealt with severely, and the Pittsburgh Penguins support the NHL in sending this very strong message.”

Cooke has long been criticized as one of the league’s dirtier players, and was responsible for a blindside hit last March that has left Bruins center Marc Savard with concussion issues. Savard is currently out for the season after a routine hit from Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick caused another concussion from which he is still recovering.

Read More: Marc Savard, Matt Cooke, Ryan McDonagh, Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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