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Does perception of NHL in America rest in hands of the Bruins?



BOSTON — I’m a huge fan of “Cheers,” for my money the best ensemble sitcom in television history. It also has one of the iconic theme songs of any television program. I particularly like these lines: You want to go where people know/people are all the same/You want to go/where everybody knows your name

Well, everybody in Boston, the setting for fictional “Cheers,” knows the name of Penguins LW MATT COOKE. Though, as you can see from these Boston newspaper articles, he’s probably most known in this city as “bum” or “rat” or… uh, just take a look:

= Boston Herald Bruins beat reporter STEPHEN HARRIS:

= Herald columnist RON BORGES:

= A “tale of the tape” from the Herald:

= FLUTO SHINZAWA of the Boston Globe:

= The Glove looks at the Big Bad Bs of yesteryear:

Well, never let it be said that Boston’s media lacks for keeping water at a boil. Good on them. Hey, it takes a lot to knock the Red Sox off the perch in this town, so I applaud the Boston papers for playing up a big-feel NHL event. Capturing “buzz” and presenting it to the people of a community remains one of the (more-than-you-think) things that newspapers do better than other media outlets.

Readers have e-mailed me asking what I expect from the game tonight between the Penguins and Bruins at TD Garden. Honestly, I expect a lot more hockey than anybody in Boston is calling for. If I’m wrong, and a Boston Bash and/or Bloodletting breaks out – well, hey, who am I to be the lone voice against forsaking the last 20 or so years of movement away from a *mostly* respectable on-ice product?

The NHL doesn’t need what could transpire tonight. The image of this league is too often dragged through the mud by mainstream U.S. media that doesn’t cover it on a regular basis. A fiasco tonight just days after the reigning two-time MVP was suspended for a violent act – really, does anybody think that will get positive coverage in America on Friday?

This is no longer about Cooke or injured Bruins C MARC SAVARD. Tonight is about a flagship Original Six franchise doing what it should by making the Penguins pay on the scoreboard and in the standings, by taking two points and solidifying a playoff spot. The eye-for-an-eye mentality – or, in this case, head shot-for-head shot thinking – will not look good upon the Bruins anywhere but in Boston, and it will crush any mainstream momentum the NHL has gained after the wildly popular Olympic men’s ice hockey gold-medal game.

I’ll ask Bruins fans this: If what Cooke did was so disgusting and distasteful, why would you want one of your own to take a cue from him?

— BY ROB ROSSI (3/18/10)


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.


  1. Steve H. says:

    Although I expect a really physical, chippy game tonight, I don’t suspect that the game will get out of hand. Despite calls in the Boston media for retribution, including pesumably against some of the Pens’ star players, I think the league will deliver a not so subtle message to both teams to avoid anything resembling the Steve Moore/Todd Bertuzzi incident of a few years ago. I suspect that Cooke will start the game for the Pens and the Bruins will respond with a line featuring either Lucic or Thornton or both. The puck will be dropped, Cooke will fight one of those two Bruins, and hopefully cooler heads will prevail the rest of the game. At least I can dream, right?

  2. Paul M says:

    You’re kidding right? Now you’re worried about the NHL’s image? While objectively valid points, coming from a Pittsburgh writer your comments will be perceived as, “we got away with a cheap shot but further cheap shots would make the league look bad.” By endorsing the league’s not suspending Cooke you endorsed future shots to the head. They’re legal right? The rules haven’t changed. Maybe after what happened in the Chicago-Anaheim game last night (another head shot) somebody will wake up, but I’m not holding my breath.

  3. Alex says:

    i agree with you that the U.S. media will make this look bad, but forgeet them. In the NHL players patrol the game and they always have. Im a Bruins fan, im not gonna lie, and i want Cooke to pay for that hit. Whether it was suspension-worthy or not… i can’t say. Regardless he crushed Savard and in the NHL when your star player gets hit you stand up for him. I don’t want the Bruins to do anything cheap, just finish their checks on him. And everybody knows if that hit was on Crosby that player would never play in the NHL again…. well mabye that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you get my point. So why don’t you (Rob Rossi) not be such a grump …. Cooke is gonna get whats coming to him tonight. A Bruins could use a good fight and the Bruins are honoring the 1970 Stanley Cup champs tonight so emotions will be high.

  4. Steve says:

    Marc Savard got hurt real bad by way of an excusable cheap shot. He also makes something like $48,000 a game, more than the average person makes in a year. Assuming he misses 12 games at the end of this season he’ll earn over half a million dollars doing nothing the last three weeks of the season. I’m not crying for him. As for Cooke, the Pens should let the Bruins beat his brains in. That’s what he should get for putting real players like Sid and Geno at risk.

  5. Plumber 27 says:

    OK, the NHL does not have any problems. Cooke hit the guy in a legal manner and the guy that got hit had his head down. It happens in a rough tumble game. I Look for Cooke to get in a fight tonight and that is the end of it. Both guys will thrown out of the game and end of the story. A big to do about nothing. Hockey, it is a violent game and these guys are not figure skaters. Stay home or tune it out if you do not like hard hits, fights and an occasional cheap shot. Time to move on and end of the story.
    Lastly, where is Cam Neely………Oh thats right he got ULF’d a few years ago and retired………….

  6. Patti J. says:

    Rob, fans here in Boston are outraged, mostly because there was not even a penalty, much less a suspension. Marc Savard is a class guy and our best player. I was at the game last night behind the bench. I felt bad for the Bruins players last night, because the Pens have so much more speed and skill. The ghost of Todd Bertuzzi was definitely in the room.

    Good call, Steve H.

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