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Cooke reacts to non-action from NHL, and is Tyler Kennedy in danger of losing his spot?

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THOUGHTS ON COOKE

Those Penguins fans who heard my radio appearance Wednesday night on the “The Gregg Gianotti Show” may be surprised to have heard that I supported the NHL’s decision not to suspend LW Matt Cooke for his hit on Bruins C Marc Savard last Sunday. The hit was legal, period and end of story. It won’t be the end of the story, but it should be.

Also, suspending players for a legal hit is not a move the NHL should make. Suspending players after a legal hit because of their reputation – as reaction from players around the league seemingly would have liked to have seen happen with Cooke – is also a move from which the NHL should steer clear.

THOUGHTS FROM COOKE

Cooke addressed the NHL’s lack of disciplinary action and GMs’ proposed head-shot rules after a morning practice Thursday at RBC Center:

Q: Were you surprised by the NHL’s lack of action against you?

A: A: I prepared for the league to make a decision; either way I was going to have to deal with it. They did their homework, obviously, with the timing of the GM meetings. Right now my thoughts are with Savard and I hope he gets a speedy recovery, because it wasn’t my intention to hurt him.

Q: Have you made contact with Savard?

A: I went to as big of lengths as I could to make sure he got a message from me… (but) I didn’t speak with him.

Q: Do you feel you’ll be a marked man now?

A: I don’t know if it’s any different than it was before.

Q: Have you had a chance to read the proposed rule, and will it make it any clearer?

A: I hope that it does bring clarification to what’s allowed and what’s not. I know they worked hard on it. I know there are some strict concerns. I hope it brings clarification.

Q: Does it?

A: Yeah, I think it does. I think it protects guys in certain areas of the ice.

Q: Would it be easier to have an outright ban on blows to the head?

A: My personal opinion on that is the speed of the game is so great it’s impossible to do that. I think they are going in the right direction.

Q: Do you see the rule as something that will make players think twice?

A: I think it’s going to make sure you’re in that area, and that guys are more protected.

AT THE DISCO

Highlights from head coach Dan Bylsma’s post-practice scrum:

— G Brent Johnson will start at Carolina, making G Marc-Andre Fleury the guy charged with helping the Penguins beat the Devils for the first time this season Friday at New Jersey.

— “The Nightmare Line” of Cooke-C Jordan Staal-RW Tyler Kennedy may not be a sure bet to stay together given the Penguins’ newfound forward depth. “We have a lot of guys in our lineup playing very well,” Bylsma said. “Pascal Dupuis is playing the best hockey I’ve seen since he’s been a Penguin. Mike Rupp is playing really well. Craig Adams is in a penalty-killing role, and he’s a big part of that; he’s playing well physically. Max Talbot is getting back to being Max in terms of work ethic, determination and tenacity on the ice. That’s creating a lot of competition on our team right now, and we have that situation tonight with a healthy complement of forwards, minus Eric Godard. Yes, there’s movement in our lineup.” Kennedy is without a goal in 16 games, and he has scored just four since opening the season with five in nine games.

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Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

 
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