The NHL today sent its first serious message in the battle against headshots by announcing they have suspended Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs.
The suspension will cost Cooke more than $219,000 in salary.
Cooke is a repeat offender, and the elbow he threw to the head of New York's Ryan McDonagh was blatant, so this was the opportunity to send a message. But this is a clear sign that the NHL will use supplementary discipline to change the mindset of the league.
Here is the press release:
TORONTO (March 21, 2011) -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season (10 games) and the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for delivering an elbow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in NHL game #1080 yesterday, the National Hockey League announced today. Cooke will forfeit $219,512.20 in salary.
"Mr. Cooke, a repeat offender, directly and unnecessarily targeted the head of an opponent who was in an unsuspecting and vulnerable position," said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. "This isn't the first time this season that we have had to address dangerous behavior on the ice by Mr. Cooke, and his conduct requires an appropriately harsh response."
Cooke's most recent suspension was for four games on Feb. 9, 2011 and under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement forfeits his salary based on the number of games in the season (82), rather than the number of days (186). The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
The incident occurred at 4:36 of the third period and Cooke was assessed a major penalty for elbowing and a game misconduct.
Cooke will miss Pittsburgh's remaining 10 regular-season games and be ineligible for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.