By Joe Haggerty
WILMINGTON Matt Cooke has been handed plenty of chances.The Pittsburgh Penguins' pit bull has been frothing at the mouth for years now, and showed a propensity to bite on several occasions during his career with the Pens.Hes always been protected by the heavy hitters within the Penguins organization, but now its time for the NHL to put their rabid pooch down as he simply keeps on biting the hand that feeds. Cooke dropped a premeditated, flat-out evil flying elbow on New Yorkdefenseman Ryan McDonagh Sunday afternoon before a live U.S. national audience during the NBC broadcast of PenguinsRangers, and it couldnt have been any clearer how wrong it was.Cooke lined up the Rangers forward from across the middle of the ice and provided a high elbow finish designed to separate brain from consciousness in a move thats become Cookes calling card.It was the kind of move that only somebody like Tito Santana would be proud of, and says that perhaps Cooke would have been better off joining the professional wrestling ranks. Everyone thought that the NHL made examples of Dany Heatley and Brad Marchand with two-game suspensions last week after their elbows were put on center stage during the NHL GM Meetings in Boca Raton, Florida.But the Cooke case is where the NHL will make their biggest statement of the season in regard to head shots and dangerous hatchet man operating with a Wild West mentality.There are a group of dirty, rotten scoundrels in the NHL that make their living based on intimidation and traipsing the fine line between playing hardplaying dirty, and Cooke is their crowned prince of scumbaggery. Youve got to wonder about the social behavior capacity of a player that goes out and attempts to severely injure a fellow player after his general manager (Ray Shero) and owner (Mario Lemieux) have become the flag-bearers for stronger NHL punishments for all. There is nothing for Cooke to gain from his actions, but he seems compelled to continue them.Its indeed the perfect storm for NHL President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell to step up and do what he never did last season. Its a chance for Campbell to write the indisputable wrong of letting Cooke walk scot-free after possibly ending Marc Savards career last spring with another of his signature cheap shot elbows.Its time for Campbell and the NHL to finish the statement thats been over a year in the making.The NHL is a game made up of violent contact and brutality, but there have always been safeguards in place be they of the Dave Semenko fists of fury kind, or the supplemental discipline variety to insulate players from cheap shots and high acts of hockey cowardice.Campbell is now in place to help protect a league under fire from all sides because of their unbending brutality, and he simply needs to end Matt Cookes season.Cooke shouldnt suit up again for the Penguins during the regular season or playoffs, and their alternate captain shouldnt play another game in Pittsburgh unless he agrees to wholeheartedly change his ways.Nobody is going to choose the downright stupid route of calling police or getting Barack Obama involved with Cookes sharpened elbow act, as Montreal rashly did, but Campbell has a chance to prove justice actually does exist in the NHL.Its time for Cooke to sit down and think for a good long time about everything hes done in an infamous pro hockey career. And stop or be stopped.On to the links: The normally nondescript Henrik Zetterberg takes a stand, and tells the Sporting News Craig Custance that Cooke shouldnt play again this season. James Mirtle says that the meaningless late-season run by the Toronto Maple Leads has a pretty familiar look to it. Malden Catholic wins the Super 8 and continues to prove that theyre the new King of the Hill in Massachusetts prep school hockey. The Senators and Craig Anderson agree on a four-year deal that Ottawa hopes will benefit them in the same way it did the Bruins when they extended a contract to Tim Thomas during their darkest days. It was one of the last moves by Mike OConnell, and one of his best moves, in retrospect. The Days of Y'orr boys get a little nervous about the hard-charging Canadiens, and give a proper salute to the day Ron Tugnut made 70 saves against the Bruins. Five thoughts from Scott Burnside including a pretty good breakdown of Habs defenseman P.K. Subban after his hat trick against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday afternoon. The Dropkick Murphys and Bruce Springsteen got together for a group of songs at the House of Blues on Sunday. Great stuff, and theres a hockey connection if you check out the Dropkicks drum set. CBCs Elliotte Friedman spot on as usual when discussing the Matt Cooke situation, and the embarrassment that its caused to the Penguins organization.