MONTREAL — &&&& this will come as no surprise to you, boys and girls — but the NHL fumbled the puck again Sunday when the league announced there would be no supplemental discipline for Penguin Matt Cooke’s vicious hit from behind on the Bruins’ Adam McQuaid on Saturday.
Never mind that Cooke is the league’s worst serial offender. Never mind that he almost certainly acted deliberately when he slashed Senator Erik Karlsson’s Achilles tendon and got away with it earlier this season.
The NHL simply refuses to get serious about curbing the concussion epidemic. The game is still blame-the-victim: McQuaid saw Cooke coming and he still turned to handle the puck along the boards, so it’s all his fault.
It didn’t take long for the Cro-Magnons to weigh in with their take. Glenn Healy, predictably, was one of the first to blame the victim. Sunday, Rick Tocchet was on Twitter saying the same thing — but maybe Tocchet had money on the Pens.
One day, a guy like Cooke is going to leave an opponent either a quadriplegic or dead. It’s going to go back to Brendan Shanahan’s failure to discipline the worst offenders — and to hypocrites like Mario Lemieux, who criticize the level of violence in the league while keeping players like Cooke on their rosters.
Ironically, one effect of Cooke’s hit was that it put two or three stars who weren’t involved in the play in immediate jeopardy. Events took a decidedly chippy turn after that hit, with one from Brad Marchand that also should have drawn supplemental discipline.
Events took a really dangerous turn when Evgeni Malkin and Patrice Bergeron started throwing punches. Malkin can fight and in Bergeron you have one of the stars whose career has been blighted by a serious concussion.
At the same time, for no reason any sane person could comprehend, Sidney Crosby started yapping at Zdeno Chara and refused to quit. It was like watching a toy poodle yap at a Great Dane. Chara stooped to listen and Crosby yapped away, his rather pathetic sprout of a playoff beard making him look even more like a bratty teenager mouthing off to his father.
What if Chara had decided to unleash the fists that destroyed the face of Raitis Ivanans and tossed Bryan McCabe around like a rag doll? With one punch, he could have turned Crosby into a speed bump on the highway of life. With Crosby’s history of concussions, could he take even a single punch from Chara?
What if Bergeron, whose helmet came off, had hit his head when he fell to the ice after getting demolished by Malkin’s fists?
Fortunately, Bergeron wasn’t seriously hurt and Chara (who will get no credit for his actions in these parts) let Crosby off the hook. But it was Cooke who started it all — and Sunday, the NHL gave him a get-out-of-jail-free card, so that he can do it again Monday night in Pittsburgh. Pathetic.
The one that got away: A decade has passed since the Canadiens disastrous 2003 draft and the fallout is still painful. It may have been the best and deepest draft in NHL history and the disastrous picks the Canadiens made in the first and second rounds haunt the club to this day.
It was Bob Gainey’s first draft for Montreal and, by his own admission, he had been out of hockey and out of the loop. It was also the first season with the club for Trevor Timmins.
The result wasn’t pretty: Most knowledgeable fans can recite the list of stars the Habs missed after taking the regrettable Andrei Kostitsyn with the 10th pick in the first round, right ahead of Jeff Carter and before Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards and Corey Perry.
At least the Canadiens got a serviceable player in Kostitsyn, even if his most notable moment in the NHL came when he was busted for partying with Alex Radulov during the playoffs.
No such luck with Cory Urquhart, the 40th overall pick in the second round. Urquhart never made the NHL and was most recently seen bouncing back and forth between a couple of second-tier German teams, the Heilbronn Falcons and the Cologne Sharks.
Five picks deeper into that draft, the Bruins plucked Patrice Bergeron from under the noses of their Quebec rival (ahead of Matt Carle, Shea Weber, Corey Crawford, Jimmy Howard, etc.)
But it’s the Bergeron pick that really hurts. Pair Bergeron with one of those first-round beauties the Habs missed and The Dynasty might still be The Dynasty. Bergeron gives you all the things you need to win in the NHL, especially at playoff time: grit, intelligence, determination, leadership, a knack for winning faceoffs, timely scoring — and the ability to check a superstar into the ice, which he did with Crosby on Saturday night.
Oh, yes. And he’s also a homegrown Quebec product, a commodity in short supply in the Canadiens room. There he was back in the spring of 2003, putting up 73 points for Acadie-Bathurst — hiding in plain sight.
Making an Impact: They came from behind to win the Canadian championship. They’re winning on the road, they’re winning at home. They’re scoring goals. They have some genuine, world-class players in the fold.
The Impact haven’t yet made a huge impact with the fans of this city, but if they keep playing the way they have been under Marco Schallibaum, they will. They’re in a battle for first in the Eastern Conference with the New York Red Bulls, they’re among the league leaders in goal-scoring — and it’s only their second season in MLS.
Unfortunately, just when the Impact might have some momentum going with the fans, they’re off for two weeks before playing in Columbus on June 15.
Lies, rumours &&&& vicious innuendo: There has always been a lot of cheering for the L.A. Kings around our house, mostly because of Anze Kopitar. Not sure another Kings Stanley Cup would be good for the NHL, however. The Kings are the Millennium Devils, specialists in clogging the ice in front of a great goaltender. Yawn. …
Look at the goaltending leaders in the playoffs and you have an international smorgasbord of talent looking ahead to Sochi: Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford, Antii Niemi, Tomas Vokoun, Tuukka Rask, Henrik Lundqvist. …
It’s one of the more exhilarating sights in sports — watching Tiger Woods fall completely apart. …
Strange watching Milos Raonic lose to Kevin Anderson at the French Open. Raonic, who looks far more like a cow on ice than Maria Sharapova ever did, played like a top-four player on one point and a rank amateur on the next. Raonic is 22. If he has the stuff to climb into the top 10, he’ll have to play better than he did in Paris. …
No such problem for Eugenie Bouchard, who put in a far better performance against Sharapova. If not for an errant forehand, she would have broken Sharapova to tie it at 5-5 in the second set and put some real pressure on the world No. 2. …
You know it’s tennis season again when you hear the worst sound in the world of sports. No, I’m not talking about all the shriekers, screamers and grunters on the women’s tour — I’m talking about Droning McEnroe.
Heroes: Hassoun Camara, Justin Mapp, Sanna Nyassi, Collen Warner, Marco Di Vaio, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, Tomas Vokoun, Nathan Horton, Claude Julien, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Corey Crawford, Jonathan Quick, Paul George, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Miguel Cabrera &&&& last but not least, Eugénie Bouchard.
Zeros: Matt Cooke, the NHL’s department of supplemental indiscipline, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Joffrey Reynolds, Rick Tocchet, Glenn Healy, Don Cherry, P.J. Stock, Mark Davis, Rob Ford, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Stephen Harper, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria.
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