Any hockey fan knows who he is. He's the dirtiest player in hockey. He's been made famous by the hits from behind and hits to the head that the NHL has tried so hard to eliminate.
If you follow the NHL, you know I'm talking about Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke. Cooke is a "grinder" type forward for excels on the forecheck and playing the body. But Cooke's game also includes the ability and willingness to instigate other teams' players. Cooke though, at times, goes to far and has definitley earned his dirty reputation. He was suspended again today, by the the NHL, for his elbow to the head of New York Rangers defensman Ryan McDonagh. This time, the NHL laid down the law, hard. Cooke is suspended until the end of the first round of the playoffs.
Cooke was suspended for this hit:
The scary part is this isn't even the worst of Cooke's dirty hits. Everyone saw his horrible hit on Marc Savard. Although it was technically a clean hit, no one is denying, it was a cheap, dangerous hit.
And there's these:
There was this knee on knee hit on Alex Ovechkin,
and this was the hit from behind on Fedor Tyutin.
The Penguins have spoken out more against illegal hits more than any franchise in the league. Their owner, the great Mario Lemieux, has even considered whether he wants to be apart of the league with this going on. And they have been criticized for their comments when they emply the league's biggest culprit. But they have supported the league today with their decision to suspend Cooke.
I don't have a big problem with them having Cooke on the team. Where my problem lies, is with the letter Cooke wears on his jersey.
As you can see in the below picture, or the above videos, Cooke is an alternate captain.
This guy is undeniabley the dirtiest player in hockey. Tell me how this guy is worth of an alternate captain's "A"? Now I know some of his teammates have said "he's a great guy" and that's great but Cooke's actions on the ice are unacceptable. Cooke put players in danger when he steps on the ice and there is no way he should be consider a team leader. Players that wear captain's "C"s or alternate's "A"s are players who respect the game and represent what it is good in the NHL, sportsmanship, perseverance, and a good attitude. Players like Martin St. Louis, Jarome Iginla, and recently retired Scott Niedermayer are perfect examples of this. Matt Cooke does NOT fit this build. Matt Cooke is the dirtiest players in the league and is an embaressement to the league. Players that lead the current NHL in suspensions and games missed due to suspension should not be alternate captains. A case can be mad Chris Pronger should not be either but he has not had as many suspensions or dirty hits as Cooke. Cooke is the worst of the worst and should not be wearing an "A".