Matt Cooke is on the minds of a lot of people again this morning, and for what else? His hit-from-behind of Fedor Tyutin last night is drawing the ire of many and the defense of few, and it even made him a worldwide trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday.
Let's take a look at the incident.
Cooke was given a five minute charging major on the play, in addition to the five minute fighting major he picked up after Derick Brassard dropped the gloves with him.
Our Penguins blog, Pensburgh, commented on what FSN broadcasters Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey had to say about the incident.
To me, the most interesting part about this play-by-play is the change in tone of Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey from the start of the hit to the final replay before commercial break. At first Cooke "just crushed him." That led to "Well, he hit him pretty much from behind," which ultimately changed to "a call, if there is one, on Cooke."
Unfortunately what you don't see on the video that you definitely saw (or can see again given the joys of DVR) is Errey trying to defend Cooke by saying Tyutin saw him coming and that he should have braced for the hit. Complete with a "freeze it there!" moment in the replay as well. It's a hard angle to take in this debate, especially following Cooke's questionable hit on Alex Ovechkin Sunday afternoon.
So the big question, of course, is how long he'll be suspended? The NHL obviously takes a lot of different things into consideration here and the fact that Tyutin wasn't injured on the play (beyond a little soreness) will certainly impact their decision. Cooke has a disciplinary hearing on the phone Wednesday morning, and those types of hearings usually indicate a light penalty.
A lot of people are quick to say that the NHL should throw the book at Cooke. Jeremy Roenick had one of the most opinionated takes on this on XM Radio this morning, calling him "chicken shit" and saying that this type of stuff is going to get somebody killed some day.
Then, there's the other side of the argument. The side that says Tyutin deserves the blame. It's a perspective that a lot of people have taken, including Pens coach Dan Bylsma and Cooke himself.
Here's what No. 24 told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"It used to be you were responsible for yourself if you turned, but that's not the way anymore," Cooke said. "That call's been called on us four or five times this year. It's the same thing.
"He turns and looks and sees me coming. The other defenseman is slowing me down, so I'm not skating full speed at him."
"The player looked him right in the eyes and knows he's coming -- he makes sure that he keeps his numbers towards him."
There's also a point of view that Tyutin's defensive partner, in this case Jan Hejda, bears some of the responsibility. He glides past the oncoming Cooke to move behind the net as an outlet to whom Tyutin can dish the puck. Some will say that he needs to get in front of Cooke to make sure he can't bury Tyutin in the corner, whether that's cleanly or otherwise.
At the end, though, the overwhelming argument is that Cooke's at fault here. He needs to ease up in that case, despite the fact that he's shown no ability to do that in his career. We'll let Pensburgh finish that argument.
No matter how you look at it or say who should have done what, it doesn't change the fact that Cooke launched himself into Tyutin's back. Bracing for the hit or not, I'd say he'd still wind up head first into the boards. The only thing that may potentially protect Cooke is the fact that Tyutin popped right back up.
And that last fact will likely be the reason Matt Cooke gets off easy -- again. We'll find out later today.