Dangerous Plays: Ovechkin and Cooke

The NHL disciplinary board must have had their hands full these last few days what with what happened as of late. Ovechkin with a behind the back push on Campbell that sent him into the boards and Cooke’s elbow that pummeled Savard. There has been a lot of talk in the past years from veteran NHLers and coaches saying that players seemed to have lost a healthy respect for one another, where players are out to injure others now more often than before.

To me, there are two distinctions to these hits. Ovechkin’s hit was not predatory and I believe from watching the replays that his original intent was not to injure Brian Campbell, but to merely “finish a check” as most North American coaches would be telling their players. Ovechkin didn’t use an elbow or go for a head shot, he gave a shove to Campbell on the slight of the back (not really the numbers but on the side) that given Ovechkin’s enormous strength was more than what Campbell could handle and sent him smashing into the boards. Campbell’s injury was a broken collarbone which puts him out for the rest of the season. A good/bad thing for the Hawks, depending how one looks at it. But if one were to look at the replay, it wasn’t predatory, as I said again Ovechkin was forechecking and he did a play that has been done hundreds of times before by every other player when doing the same thing. The difference in strength is what caused the incident to occur as well as the somewhat vulnerable position that Campbell was in.

Cooke’s hit on Savard on the other hand I simply cannot condone. It was predatory, it was dirty and it was…well Cooke style. If you watch the replay carefully, you see that Cooke isn’t even trying to separate Savard from the puck, since Savard was already in mid shot and doesn’t hit Savard until the puck was way gone. To add to that, you see Cooke lifting his elbow and aiming directly at Savard’s head, giving him a season ending concussion. This was a textbook dirty play and for the NHL to not suspend Cooke, is yet another black mark on the sport which have had many casual fans make NHL as a laughable sport given their lack of controls on players and their actions. If Cooke was going for a clean hit, he could have taken the body, he was parallel to Savard and could have gone shoulder to shoulder, but no, he had to go with an elbow to the head. There is no room for players like Cooke in the NHL and hopefully this adds more fuel to the fire for the NHL to ban hits to the head (which the IIHF does without having to reduce hockey to a wimpy sport).

One hit was a solid, culture og hockey type hit which ended in unfortunate circumstances. The other was an act of a player intent on injury whom has had a long history of doing such hits. I’ll let you decide which is which. Youtube links below.

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