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Thursday Wakeup Call: Cooke controversy? Come on

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

>> The weekly chat will begin one hour early, at noon. That’s because I’ll be flying up to you-know-where in the early afternoon.

As always, you can begin submitting chat entries as early as 6 a.m.

>> Some folks, most seemingly across Canada, thought this was controversial …

It was awful. It was ugly to see Erik Karlsson’s Achilles’ tendon get lacerated by Matt Cooke’s skate, and it’s ugly to think of the loss not only to the Senators but also to the NHL. Karlsson is the game’s most dynamic defenseman, remarkably the league leader in shots at any position.

But the Senators’ instant reaction came across entirely as reflexive whining, a charge that’s bolstered by both GM Bryan Murray and coach Paul MacLean primarily citing who Cooke is rather than what actually happened. I understand it, to an extent. One only needs to remember the reaction around here when Jordan Staal was similarly cut by the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban a couple years back.

Beyond that, though, there’s nothing there.

There’s zero cause for any type of discipline from the NHL office. (And the NHL office apparently shares that view, as our Rob Rossi reports.)

Often these cases are complicated, but not this. Just watch Cooke’s head. Nothing else, just the head. No matter the angle, no matter how quickly or slowly you roll through the video, you see Cooke’s head is turning to the right. And by the time his skate gets even close to Karlsson’s ankle, his head is completely turned right.

I’ll say it again: Completely turned right.

Say what you want about how well Cooke has played in general this season, but he doesn’t have eyes in the back of his head, to borrow the hockey cliche for a great passer. There’s no way he targets any part of Karlsson’s body if he can’t see it.

>> I’ll say this, too: I don’t have a problem with either Chris Neil’s behavior in going after Cooke late, or the officials’ decision to issue Cooke a misconduct at that point.

Neil is doing what he’s paid to do. Hockey players don’t ask if someone meant to do something. They ask who hit the guy who put down their best player. If you’re going to blame Neil or the Senators, then you’ll run out of fingers to point before long.

And the referees, even though stretching the spirit of the misconduct rule, absolutely did the right thing by getting Cooke out of there. It’s old-school NHL, but it works.

>> Excruciating loss for Duquesne’s women last night, just a block away. Those who listened to the radio show this week know that Suzie McConnell-Serio was building this up as a major step for the program, and Saint Joseph’s wins by one point. In overtime. After a big home rally.

‘I’m not going to lie, this one hurts,’ McConnell-Serio said.

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Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

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