Last night in the Penguins Senators game a very unfortunate incident occurred late in the 2nd period. Erik Karlsson and Matt Cooke engaged in a battle for the puck in the corner. During the fight for the puck Cooke’s left foot came up in the air, when it came down it made direct contact with Karlsson’s Achilles’ tendon. Reports are that the tendon was lacerated and will need surgery. Karlsson will be out indefinitely. This is a tremendous blow obviously to the Ottawa Senators but for hockey as well. No defenseman in the league is as dynamic offensively as Erik Karlsson. Much like a concussion, an Achilles injury has the potential of leaving a lasting impact. A player may never come back completely from such an injury. It truly is a terrible situation. Cameron Walsh provides details here about the recovery process from a serious Achilles injury.
Given that Matt Cooke is the player involved in the incident, naturally there is speculation about intent. I find that there are two perceptions about the incident. The 1st perception is Cooke was careless with his foot, but did not maliciously step down on Karlsson’s leg with intent to injure. The other perception is from people who see Matt Cooke’s name and believe he is guilty of the worst case scenario. Matt Cooke made his bed with his previous incidents. It’s understandable why there would be strong emotions about another play where Cooke has seriously injured a player. Personally I do not believe that Cooke intentionally stomped on Karlsson’s Achilles. Over the course of my amateur playing career I was guilty of playing on the edge at times. High hits, slashes, hits from behind, etc… When a guy on the other team pissed you off, you took his number and made sure to pay him back, sometimes not within the rules of the game. However, I can emphatically say that not once did the thought ever enter my mind about using my skate blade as a means of inflicting bodily harm. I believe this is the case with every player in the NHL. Some lines you don’t cross no matter what. Using your skate blade to cut somebody is one of them. I understand there have been kicking/stomping incidents in the past, but I have yet to see one where the player has actively and consciously tried to slice the flesh of the opposition. In almost all cases the players are tangled up with one another and a kicking motion is part of freeing their leg away from the opposing player (doesn’t make it right in that circumstance either).
I guess the real question is why would Cooke, who made significant changes to his game, consciously and intentionally commit a violent act like that again, let alone in a contract year? He is one intentional play away from being banished forever and forfeiting millions of dollars. I just don’t buy that it was intentional. There are plenty of reasons to hate Matt Cooke as a hockey player, and deservingly so, without fabricating any.
One of the hockey voices I respect most echoes this sentiment
@Buccigross Did Matt Cooke try to intentionally injure Karlsson?”--My opinion would be between no and unfathomably no.
The other frustrating apect of this sequence was that the puck went into the protective netting in the Penguins zone. The play should have been whistled dead but continued on. The play that immediately transpired after the non whistle was the Karlsson injury.
Here is to a proper recovery to Karlsson, one which does not leave him unable to return to his previous form. Dynamic offensive players are what makes the NHL the best league in the world, Karlsson is amongst the most dynamic.
Update: There will be no disciplinary action from the league regarding the Karlsson/Cooke incident per Brendan Shanahan.
Moving on to less depressing news, Sidney Crosby recorded his 400th career assist last night. He accomplished the feat in 448 games. Per John Buccigross, only 4 players have done so faster: Gretzky (290), Lemieux (353), Stastny (411), and Orr (437). Pretty impressive company.
The Penguins have called up their #1 forward prospect Beau Bennett. It appears the Boychuk experiement in the top 6 will be ending. Until Matt Cooke's assist last night no Penguins LW that played with Malkin and Neal 5 on 5 had registered a single point all season long.
The St. Louis Blues got back to their winning ways with a gutsy 4-3 victory against the Detroit Red Wings. The Blues found themselves down 2-0 and refused to quit. After a rough start to the game, rookie and first time NHL starter Jake Allen brushed off a sloppy start to his night and picked up his first NHL victory. The reason for Allen starting is because Brian Elliott has been playing awful hockey. His stat line so far this year (3.57 GAA .847 Save %) is a far cry from his spectacular season last year (1.56 GAA .940 Save %). Brian Elliott is in serious jeopardy of losing his backup role unless he starts to improve.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 6th goal of the year in the victory. The rookie leads all Blues players with 6 goals this season (tied with Stewart and Berglund)
Jaromir Jagr made a visit to Calgary last night, all 6 of him were present in the building. Well played gentlemen.
Thanks for reading