Monday, March 21, 2011
Brad Marchand: Suspend Matt Cooke
By Joe McDonald
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand just completed his two-game suspension for his elbow to the head of an opposing player, but that didn't stop him from saying that enough is enough and the NHL needs to suspend the Penguins' Matt Cooke.
Cooke will have an in-person disciplinary hearing with the league Monday in Toronto for his elbow to the head of the Rangers' Ryan McDonagh during Sunday's game.
"I think it's about time he gets [suspended]," Marchand said. "He needs to be taught a lesson. He's doing that stuff left, right and center. I expect he'll get a bunch of games. He's got to be taught a lesson. He can't be running around doing that stuff all the time. He's going to seriously hurt someone again -- look at Savvy. He could have easily hurt McDonagh."
The Bruins and Cooke will forever be linked to head injuries because of the blind-side hit he landed on Marc Savard on March 7, 2010 in Pittsburgh. Savard missed two months with a severe concussion and suffered post-concussion syndrome last summer.
Cooke was not suspended for his hit on Savard. Cooke has been suspended three times totaling eight games during the last three seasons.
Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron has been outspoken about hits to the head since he suffered a Grade 3 concussion in 2007.
"To be honest, I didn't see the hit," Bergeron said of Cooke's most recent elbow. "It seems like he's repeatedly been doing that, so after a while I'm sure the league is going to take care of that. After a while, it gets old. Most of the players want to make sure of the safety of everyone. We'll see what the decision of the league is."
Marchand was suspended for his elbow to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger last week. Marchand, who will return to the lineup Tuesday night, had his disciplinary hearing with the league over the phone and expects Cooke's in-person visit will be more in-depth.
"I expect them to say a little more about his incident because he's a repeat offender," Marchand said. "They'll probably sit him down and advise him he can't be doing that stuff and hopefully give him a pretty good suspension."
No matter how long Cooke is suspended, Marchand hopes he will learn his lesson.
"That seems to be a part of his game and he likes to throw around cheap shots. I don't know if he'll learn," Marchand said. "Hopefully he does so he doesn't hurt someone to a point where their career is over. You want to get rid of that stuff out of the game and hopefully he's learned his lesson."
Marchand, who plays with grit and attempts to agitate the opposition, admitted he's not about to change his game because of his recent suspension. He also said it can be tough to adjust after you've been playing a certain way for most of your career.
"It is tough, especially for a guy like [Cooke]," Marchand said. "He's played it for so many years that maybe it's tough to get out of that style, especially when these rules come in halfway through the season. It's tough to change your game and you don't want to change it too much because you'll change your role. At the same time, you need to tone it down without changing your style. It's tough. Sometimes you forget because it's habit."
While Bruins coach Claude Julien was discussing Marchand's recent two-game suspension and his expected return
to the lineup against the Devils Tuesday night at the Garden, Julien made it a point to bring up the Cooke situation.
"You need to trust your players to do the right thing and you have to trust your players that they've learned from those things and they don't let it happen," Julien said. "Although there are certain guys in the league who don't seem to be learning."
When pressed further about Cooke, Julien wouldn't elaborate.
"No reaction or no comments because right now I think I have my hands full, trying to get our team back on track," he said. "This is an opportunity for me to let the league do their job."
Marchand is just excited to be playing again.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," Marchand said. "It's tough when you've got to sit out and watch a couple of games, especially given the circumstance. I can't wait to get back and get into a game."
During Monday's practice at Ristuccia Arena, Marchand was back on the line with Bergeron and Mark Recchi. Michael Ryder, who played on that line during Marchand's absence, also had a gold sweater on for practice. Julien said his lineup would be a game-time decision on Tuesday.
"That's part of the process and we've got some healthy defensemen now, and we've got 13 forwards. There's going to be a decision made from here on in as long as everyone stays healthy," Julien said.
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.