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NHL statement on Matt Cooke suspension.


Penguins LW Matt Cooke has received the longest suspension in franchise history and is now the fourth player in NHL history to be suspended for the rest of a season. The official release from the NHL after a long hearing between Hockey Operations and Cooke in Toronto this afternoon:

TORONTO (March 21, 2011) — Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season (10 games) and the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs  for delivering an elbow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in NHL game #1080 yesterday, the National Hockey League announced today. Cooke will forfeit $219,512.20 in salary.

“Mr. Cooke, a repeat offender, directly and unnecessarily targeted the head of an opponent who was in an unsuspecting and vulnerable position,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell.  “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.”

Cooke’s most recent suspension was for four games on Feb. 9, 2011 and under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement forfeits his salary based on the number of games in the season (82), rather than the number of days (186). The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

The incident occurred at 4:36 of the third period and Cooke was assessed a major penalty for elbowing and a game misconduct.

Cooke will miss Pittsburgh’s remaining 10 regular-season games and be ineligible for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


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. "Mort" Davis says:


    Why did the Pens and Cooke bother to go to the hearing—he got about the longest suspension possible……..and the Pens supported the League all the way.

    Can we assume Matt has played his last Pens Game?

  2. Jerry Leech says:

    I hope the Penguins get rid of Cooke at the end of this year, Cooke is dirty and downright stupid.

  3. Paul says:

    Dirty hit, lame excuse, “reach out to player,” repeat…

  4. Ken Andrews says:

    I thought adding the playoffs was a bit over the top harsh. Acts in the regular season should not impact the playoffs. 10 games would have been sufficient. Dany Heatley only got 2 games and I think his hit was much worse. NHL needs to punish the act not the player’s history.

  5. Shawn says:

    I’d like to thank Matt Cooke…for doing every thing in his power on every single night to try to help our team win.

    He made some mistakes and will now pay for them, as I’m sure he’s vividly aware right now.

    I see no reason to vilify or pile onto a guy whose mistakes were made in the (reckless) pursuit of victory for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Thanks, Matt.

    PS-I have seen many, many people describe this play as “stupid” and “selfish”.

    Stupid….NO DOUBT.

    But…what exactly is your case for “selfish”? How exactly did he benefit?

  6. Steve R says:

    I think that 10 games is warranted, but the 1st round of the playoffs is too much–based on how the league has handled similar incidents. Look at Gillies who was suspended 9 games for thuggery and then only managed another few seconds on the ice before doing the same type of thing and only getting another 10 games (shouldn’t it have been 18-20?). In addition, look at all of the other head-shots that are injuring players and how little suspension time is being handed out compared to what Cooke received.

    While I don’t usually tend to think this way, it really seems like Cooke is a victim of Bettman and the NHL executives paying back the Pens for Mario’s statements to the media about head-shots and the league’s relative inaction for them.

    I’m not condoning Cooke’s actions, but we need to remember that the concussion Savard suffered from Cooke was a legal hit–of the type the league and the media was celebrating only a few years earlier when dished out by the likes of Scott Stevens. Additionally, Savard is out now because of another concussion not delivered by Cooke. Yes, the league needs to punish head-shots, but they need to quit punishing Cooke for a then-legal hit and they need to get more consistent with how they punish other offenders.

  7. Jerry Leech says:

    Matt Cooke does not care about his teammates or the Penguin’s owners, he’s on that ice because he wants to hurt people, he doesn’t care who it is. If he wanted to hurt somebody why didn’t he go after the 2 guys that hit Crosby, they must have been to big and they probably would have fought back. Poor Mario, he’s writing the league to fine the teams that have all the bad guys and Cooke hits this guy on the Rangers on National TV in front of hundreds of fans, Matt Cooke is stupid. I’m glad he got suspended for the rest of the year, but he should have been suspended for next year also. I’m hoping Mario gets rid of Cooke.

  8. Nathan says:

    “Mort” Davis,

    If they didn’t go it would be a figurative elbow to the back of the head of the NHL. That would be classless and juvenile. Cooke may act like that sometimes, but the Penguins don’t. You need to face your actions and their repercussions.

  9. Chitown Ed says:

    If the Penguins upper management is going to continue to speak out about eliminating dirty play, they are going to have to get rid of Cooke. Otherwise, theyre just talking out of both sides of their mouth.

  10. Paul says:

    The fact that some people continue to defend Matt Cooke shows the unbelievable hypocrisy of Penguins fans. If someone had done to Crosby what Cooke did to Savard these same people would be caling for criminal prosecution,a lifetime ban and vigilante justice on the ice. There is a video of Cooke hits on the internet that clearly shows intentional knee on knee hits and elbows to the head. Many pre-date his time with thePenguins. He is a dirty player and everybody knows it. Those that deny it will also deny the sky is blue.

  11. Phil says:

    Matt Cooke tends to be careless when another player avoids his hard checks. If he misses his attempt to deal a solid body blow he gets the elbows up to salvage his physical strategy. It’s actually more laziness than malicious intent. I feel bad that Matt’s having trouble shaking this style. He is probably one of the hardest hitters with skill in the league…

  12. Jerry Leech says:

    The Penguins are on a 4 game win streak, the team is relaxed knowing they can play and do not have to worry about getting a 5 minute major against them, Matt Cooke is gone. They are in the playoffs and when we win the first round I’m hoping Mario tells Matt Cooke to go home, the Penguins do not need him.

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