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Bruins angry about “dirty hit” by Matt Cooke

We’ve this type of hit too many times this season, and it seems that every week we’re writing about another player leaving the ice on a stretcher as the result of a questionable or dirty hit. Yesterday Marc Savard suffered a concussion and briefly lost consciousness as the result of a blind-side hit by the Penguins’ Matt Cooke.

The issue at hand is the fact that currently there exists a gray area when it comes to these sorts of hits; obviously elbows to the head are illegal but the blind checks that are causing a number of these injuries are not. Mike Richards was not suspended earlier this season for a very similar check on David Booth; the slight difference there was the fact that Richards’ shoulder and not his elbow did the damage. However, both hits have the exact same devastating effect.

There’s no question that Cooke will be suspended for this hit and it could be a lengthy one; he’s already been suspended three times by the NHL and twice this season. Of course, Bruins coach Claude Julien believes it was a dirty hit:

“It’s pretty obvious that was definitely a dirty hit,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who said Cooke should be suspended. “That’s probably the classic blind-side hit to the head.”

Watching the replay of the hit, it certainly appears that Cooke lays his elbow and arm into the head of Savard. Cooke maintains that he was just finishing his check, but even if that was the case there’s no need to lift your arm for the hit.

These type of open ice, blind sided checks that occur after a player releases the puck are exceptionally dangerous, but they are still not illegal...technically. Sidney Crosby wants clarification.

“At some point, there’s got to be a clear indication from the league (what’s legal and what’s not) because we’ve seen this so many times now,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “You don’t like to see anyone, your own teammate or an opposing player, lay on the ice like that.”

I understand the thought that there needs to be better clarification in the rules in regard to these type of hits, but there’s no question that the elbow in this case did the damage. So whether the hit itself is illegal or not is irrelevant; he’ll be suspended and it should be for a long term this time around.