Is Milan Lucic Following Cooke’s Recipe? Not Quite


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Waiting for Ryan Lambert’s evisceration of Matt Cooke?

On Monday, Puck Daddy’s resident Bruins oppugner rightfully condemned Milan Lucic’s spearing of Detroit’s Danny DeKeyser in Game 1 of the Bruins-Red Wings quarterfinal playoff series, but couldn’t let it go there, calling the Bruins forward “a player who has no respect for his opponents. Period.”

One can’t and shouldn’t expect any real accountability on the play — if you want to call it that given how far outside the bounds of hockey it fell — to come from his coaches. Maybe during the regular season, but certainly not during the playoffs, when Claude Julien has to swear up and down he never saw the spear, either live or on video, because you gotta have your guy’s back. Everyone gets that, even if it does make for an eye-rolling quote. This is also true of the Bruins at large, because any time anyone even looks at them crooked they can’t help complaining about it for some time (remember, Lucic was still whining about the alleged Emelin low-bridge that prompted the spear two days on).

Fair enough. But then Lambert gets just downright silly.

Had this been a DeKeyser-on-Lucic spear, instead of the other way around, and there’d only been a small fine doled out by the league, the pearl-clutching about What’s Become Of Our Great Sport and what a cheap shot artist yellow-bellied punk DeKeyser is would have been splashed across the front page of every newspaper in the city. Hell, they still talk about what a dirtbag Matt Cooke is every time he finishes an innocuous check, and he’s had a clean rap sheet for the last three seasons…The reason for that was intervention. Everyone universally agreed, “Matt Cooke has to change, or he has to go.” That’s from the league, his team, and pretty much all observers of the game. Lucic isn’t on his level — yet? — but at the same time, how many more of these incidents have to come down the pike before everyone agrees that he has to change his game?

That’s a great point, Ryan. Let’s check out some of the action from last night, shall we?

So much for reform.

Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie – who was a plus-17 for Colorado during regular season, and had two points against the Wild in a playoff series the Avs still lead, 2-1, despite Minnesota’s 1-0 win on Monday night – is out for at least a month, and Cooke is headed to a hearing with the NHL with a suspension looming, likely a lengthy one. Cry not for the Wild. They knew what they were getting themselves into.
“From leg checks to cowardly checks from behind, Cooke has a record the NHL can inspect,” writes Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla. “He was suspended for what amounted to 17 games in 2011 for elbowing New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Minnesota signed Cooke to a $7.5 million contract to bring the nasty. Well, the Wild got its money’s worth. The good people of Minnesota know the difference between old-time hockey and a goon on skates. So long as Cooke wears a Wild sweater, the state of hockey should be in a state of disgrace.”
You don’t need to be told where Marc Savard likely watched the play; in a dark room somewhere near home rather than in the Motor City preparing for Game 3 with his Bruins teammates.
It’s not exactly a revelation that Cooke is a slug. Anybody who believed his pledge three years ago that he had found Jesus, or whatever prompted his promise to change his ways, is probably also gullible enough to reply to that email with a money order to his or her long-lost relatives in Uganda. Cooke remains who he always has been, a reckless player with little remorse for his actions, a guy the rest of the league, its fans, media, and yes, even his teammates, angers to various degrees of war games. Hopefully Monday’s incident brings Cooke to Defcon 1.
But aside from a few “b-b-b-b-buts” in response to Bruins fans needling him about his Lucic-Cooke comparison the day after, Lambert’s retort seems to be little more than, “Well then I guess Lucic never speared anybody then.” Dude, nobody is condoning what Lucic did, including the NHL, which levied the Bruins forward with a $5,000 fine on Saturday. Despite what Lambert seems to believe, more than a few brought up the fact that Lucic did the same deal to Alexi Emelin a few weeks earlier in Montreal. The difference being there was that the Canadien defenseman made it seem like Lucic’s stick had a blade on the end of it sharp enough to impress Crocodile Dundee the way he fell to the ice and crawled to the bench.
Clearly, it’s a part of Lucic’s game that deserves criticism, but to in any way compare Lucic’s cheap shots to anything Cooke has accomplished on the ice is ludicrous.
“The Lucic spear netting only a $5,000 fine can be explained away as, apart from being appallingly dirty, not in any way injurious to DeKeyser, who didn’t miss a shift, and not existing outside the bounds of gamesmanship and message-sending and all that other stuff the Bruins think is so important to establish early in a series,” Lambert wrote. “But it was, again, the second time in less than a month such an act was committed by a guy who’s also been suspended twice and fined once before this. The very definition of a repeat offender.”
Maybe. If you want to really talk about repeat offenders though, check out last night then get back to me.
Cooke is a headhunter who has ended a career. Lucic is a cheap-shot artist. Sure, seems a logical comparison to make.

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