The NHL suspended Pittsburgh Penguins pest Matt Cooke Monday for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after he elbowed the New York Rangers' Ryan McDonagh in the head Sunday. While this may be great news for fans around the league, it especially hits home with Washington Capitals fans because, quite frankly, we don't like him very much.
Cooke's "highlight reel" of dirty hits is expansive and this will be his fifth career suspension. It's his fourth since joining the Penguins in 2008. What some people don't remember (or choose to forget) is that Cooke was indeed a Capital before he was a Penguin, coming from the Vancouver Canucks for Matt Pettinger during the 2008 trade deadline that also saw the Caps bring in Sergei Fedorov and Cristobal Huet. Cooke wasn't a saint for the Caps either, but he's become Public Enemy No. 1 in Washington (perhaps one of many) after a deliberate knee-to-knee hit with Alex Ovechkin February 6 that prompted head coach Bruce Boudreau to speak his mind:
"It was Matt Cooke. Need we say more? It's not like it's his first rodeo. He's done it to everybody and then he goes to the ref and says: 'What did I do?' He knows damn well what he did. There's no doubt in my mind that he's good at it and he knows how to do it. He knows how to pick this stuff. We as a league, we still buy into this [idea] that, 'Oh it was an accidental thing.'"
The NHL finally realized that this is indeed not an accidental thing. Cooke will not be eligible to return unless the Penguins make the second round of the playoffs. Without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, that will be no easy task for the shorthanded Pens. Yet, "Cookie" getting his just desserts and potentially watching the Penguins lose in the first round probably doesn't bother Caps fans too much.