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Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  March 10, 2010 04:50 PM

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...that's the message the NHL sent today about its willingness to protect players from hits to the head like the one Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke delivered to Bruins center Marc Savard, who sustained a Grade 2 concussion and might be out for the season.

On the same day NHL general managers agreed to recommend a rule change that would outlaw hits like Cooke's blindside head-to-the-shoulder blow on the Bruins center, NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell let Cooke get off cleaner than a sheet of freshly made ice by declining to suspend him for his cheap-shot check.

Apparently, the absurdity of this escapes Campbell.

Campbell said he needed to be consistent because he didn't punish Flyers skater Mike Richards for a similar hit on Florida's David Booth. He's being consistent alright. He is consistently sending the wrong message.

This was a chance to send a message that these type of cheap-shot hits wouldn't be tolerated. Instead, the message is, "Blast away, boys. Get in these 'legal' hits while you can, before we change the rules."

Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean it's right.

The good news for the Bruins and their fans is that Cooke won't be suspended for the teams' next meeting, on March 18 at the Garden. Then, the Bruins will have a chance to send a message of their own to Cooke -- legally of course.

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The word

Christopher L. Gasper riffs on the news

Dearth

...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.

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