The Bear Essentials by Mark Feldman, 98.5 The Sports Hub

BOSTON (CBS) – With the Penguins taking on the Bruins, it’s only fitting that we bring up one of the NHL’s top villains, Matt Cooke.

Read: The Bear Essentials Blog

For the first time in his career, Cooke seems to be on the short end of the stick. Is it Karma or is there actually a case to be made in support of the “dirty player?”

This year, before the season started, Cooke announced a change. He claimed that he would clean up his act and become a more respectable player, saying “I realize and understand, that I need to change.” Needless to say, hockey fans were doubtful.

Two months into the season, and the promise remains; Matt Cooke has only received 4 minor penalties during the regular season thus far. In fact, things have gone the exact opposite way for the Penguin.

Last Thursday on Dec. 1 in a game against the Washington Capitals, Caps defenseman John Carlson delivered an intense head shot on Cooke. The hit epitomized everything that the NHL stands against. If Brendan Shanahan made a blueprint video of “what not to do,” this would be it.

Oddly enough, Carlson was not punished. In fact, the NHL never even held a hearing. Strange. At a time when the league is doing its best to prevent brain injuries, what are the chances of a “dirty play” being glanced over? I would say slim to none.

The incident may seem like some deranged form of hockey karma, but I don’t buy it; the fact that that this was Matt Cooke HAS to be part of the equation. If it is, and Shanahan did choose to pass over it, it’s simply a poor way of handling the situation. Although poetic justice was achieved on some level, I would hope that the same rules apply for all individuals in the league, regardless of their reputation.

I understand that Boston fans would rave over the decision, but the integrity of the game is worth more than any kind of revenge. Ever. When asked about the incident, Cooke simply said, “I just trust that they’re doing the right things and that they have everybody’s best interest in hand when they’re making decisions.”

Follow Mark Feldman on Twitter @BEssentialsBlog

98.5 The Sports Hub is the only place to hear every game of the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins 2011-12 NHL season with Dave Goucher and Bob Beers. Coverage begins 30 minutes prior to every game.


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