Friday 12th February 2016,

Matt Cooke’s Dirty Hit on Savard

March 7, 2010 –Adam Steevens

Penguins forward Matt Cooke injured Marc Savard on a viscous hit during Sunday’s Boston-Pittsburgh contest.

“Savard had just taken a shot from above the circles when Cooke raised his shoulder and struck Savard in the head. Cooke was coming from behind on the play and Savard did not see him.

Savard was on the ice for several minutes, being attended to by a Penguins team doctor, before being carried off. He was moving his legs while on the ice and his arms while on the stretcher.

“It’s pretty obvious that was definitely a dirty hit,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “That’s probably the classic blind-side hit to the head … I’m usually reserved in making comments, but definitely the league will take care of it.”

Savard, one of Boston’s top players with 10 goals and 23 assists, remained behind at the team hotel Sunday night, along with a member of the team’s medical staff. The Bruins were unaware after the game of any medical problem other than the concussion, although they said Savard was unconscious briefly.” {}

If this hit isn’t worthy of a suspension, I don’t know what is. Cooke leads with his elbow, and hits Savard in the head. Amazingly, there was no penalty called on this play, and the NHL has yet to issue a suspension for Cooke.



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  • jeff

    He did not hit with his elbow he clearly hit with his shoulder. He did not leave his feet. Under current rules it was pretty much a clean hit, no different than a number of hits in recent years that have not garnered even a penalty.

    That said, Cooke could have easily ensured it was shoulder on shoulder but did not.

    In a league with guys commonly ranging from 5’10 to 6’4 you are always going to end up with shoulders to the head, it is unavoidable if you want contact. The league needs to take a serious look at these blind side hits, whether to the head or not.

  • HockeyPhan

    People still play hockey?

    If you play this stupid game with stupid guys with weapons and armor, then expect to get taken out.

    Boom, headshot.

  • Mike Z

    What a cheap hit. Clearly Savard did not see Cooke, because Cooke approached from behind. Hitting from behind when a player is near the boards we know can paralyze a player. Hitting from behind is the call. The league should suspend his dumb ass to make an example. I’m suprised no one leaped the boards to fight Cooke

  • fred

    I can’t believe how everyone keeps getting this wrong. This is a textbook hit to the head. And trust me, most hits that cause a fuss are not hits to the head. This one is, without question.

    It’s because Cooke raises his elbow and strikes Savard in the head and only the head (whether the point of the elbow lands is irrelevant). Cooke completely bypasses Savard’s shoulder. Watch the impact: all the force is absorbed by Savard’s neck. Jeff’s points about it being clean are irrelevant — it’s a dirty hit that targets the head.

    In regards to Mike Z’s comments… no… just no. It’s not hitting from behind. That’s not what hitting from behind is. That’s called “blindsiding” and it’s not illegal on its own. Hitting from behind is when you hit someone “in the numbers” and it’s because they’re defenseless. It has nothing to do with awareness.

    However, Jeff, I am with you about the height differential leading to a bias against tall players. If it had been shoulder to shoulder instead of shoulder to head, you would be right.

  • JerseyMike

    Mike Z: Savard didn’t see Cooke because his head was down, and that’s basically Hockey 101: always keep your head up. You hear it all the time when someone gets caught unaware. Cooke came in from behind, sure, but he was just finishing a check he had already started while Savard had the puck. That’s legal. He led with his shoulder, not his elbow, which is harder than it sounds in the heat of the moment in hockey, and is unlikely to be the case if there was malicious intent behind the hit. That’s legal. He didn’t leave his feet. That’s legal. What are you talking about “hitting from behind is the call?” Hitting someone in the numbers, ie, the back (not the head), and forcing them into the boards is called Boarding. It’s because they hit the boards. Get it? Boarding? Because of the boards? Do you see any boards near Savard? He’s on open ice. That part is irrelevant.

    Fred: I agree with most of what you’re saying, with one exception: You cannot prove that Cooke directly targeted Savard’s head. Before you blow me off, hear me out. Savard is much shorter than Cooke, as mentioned, and Savard also had the disadvantage of leaning forward on the follow through from the shot, which is what I believe caused the head contact. When a player takes a shot, they tend to lean into it to get more power behind it. Savard was clearly still in the shooting position, exposing his head, and he was standing still to admire his shot, which, as I mentioned, is a big no-no in hockey. Cooke had already started his check at that point, and Savard’s head was more exposed than I believe he anticipated.

    The hit looks bad, I’ll admit- it looks awful. But I believe that was because Savard was caught unaware. That’s Savard’s fault, not Cooke’s. It was a clean hit, and there is no reason Cooke should be fined, suspended, or otherwise penalized. It was just an unfortunate result for Savard. It didn’t break any rules, and did not appear to be intentionally malicious.

    By the way, all of this is coming from a Devils fan, so I happen to severely dislike the Penguins, and mildly dislike the Bruins, lest you think there’s some bias behind my words.

  • Guts Danson

    No charge…..elbows down…it doesnt even look like he is leaning out to catch him……whats the big deal here? I have seen players get checked into the boards head first and it only get 2 mins if any call…..

  • zack

    I’ve watched the hit a few times on my DVR, and the angle they show makes it look like he used his elbow. As much as I can’t stand Cooke, he missed his target. He lined up his hit, leaned in to go shoulder to shoulder, started looking at the puck, and caught Savard in the head. This is the same mistake that Richards made on David Booth.

  • shemp

    Savard’s head was down, and Cooke’s elbow went out. He did not hit him with his shoulder at all. Watch the hd version on youtube and you will see his arm go out to tomahawk Savard’s head with his elbow or just above the elbow at best. Go check out the Patrice Cormier hit. Was that legal Jeff? You pinhead. They suspended him for the rest of the season, and the same should happen to Cooke.

  • Dan

    A montage of Matt Cooke’s dirty hits was just played by Don Cherry during the Bruins-Canadiens first intermission. You jackasses defending Cooke should track down those clips, watch them, and then decide if you still want to defend this little coward. Guys like Cooke have no place in the game.

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  • JerseyMike

    Dan: Cooke’s character has nothing to do with our discussion. We’re talking about one particular hit, not the player’s habits. I try to set all that aside in these discussions, because as your post illustrates, your predisposition against a player influences your opinion on this situation. If you don’t like Cooke, of course you’re going say it was an illegal hit. Try to be impartial, because when you’re not you tend to overlook basic facts, and in turn you sound like an idiot (not just you personally, but people in general).

    Shemp: I suggest YOU take a closer look, because I can’t possibly be the only one seeing his shoulder hit first.

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  • andoG

    Richards hit was so much worse, he left his feet and fell down too!!! I honestly think Cooke started off like he was going to hit him then got sidetracked looking at the puck. I guarantee his eyes aren’t on Savard when contact is made. He was looking at the puck but just kept skating and clipped Savard. Totally not malicious.

    Besides Savard wouldn’t have gotten hit in the head if he wasn’t bent like completely over with his head down. Come on guys be fair, there is a difference between a dirty hit and an accident.

  • profile blast

    Actually, Cooke has that holding back a smirk look on his face all the time Canucks fan here

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