CBC hockey blowtorch Don Cherry has been ripping Matt Cooke(notes) for about a week following the Pittsburgh Penguins winger's blow to the head against Marc Savard(notes) of the Boston Bruins and subsequent non-punishment from the NHL.
Grapes took his case to Coach's Corner on "Hockey Night in Canada" in an emotional segment on Saturday night:
The segment played 13 different alleged "cheap shots" by Cooke during his time with the Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, and it was stunning. Not in the sense that Cooke has a history for this sort of thing, but we thought Hockey Night In Canada only reserved the whole "guilt by preponderance of incriminating highlights" thing for Alex Burrows...
Cherry was on fire here, claiming Cooke never goes after "the tough guys" and that he wouldn't have touched Steve Yzerman if Bob Probert was on the bench. Cherry also went beyond the usual critique to share a face-to-face argument he had with Cooke after the winger hit Erik Cole(notes) of the Carolina Hurricanes last season:
"Last year in the playoffs against Carolina, I met him in the hall. Or he met me in the hall ... and he said to me, 'Are you gonna have the guts to say to my face what you say [on] TV?' And I said 'yeah' about six inches from his face: 'You're a gutless, backstabbing little ...,' and I can't say what I called him."
The two critical points in Cherry rant:
1. That the NHL's decision not to suspend Cooke could create an "open season" for that type of hit because it won't receive any punishment, something that's been voiced in other corners of the League as well. Cherry called for the expedited approval of the GM's blindside hit ban. It's a logical move, hence it won't happen.
2. That Cooke's hit was as injurious to the NHL's reputation as it was to Savard: "It gave meat to everybody who's against the National Hockey League. He's the poster boy."
On that last point: Six games for a sex joke in the locker room looks even more preposterous now, doesn't it? Or slightly less preposterous than certain pundits no appear after calling for Sean Avery's banishment from hockey at the time. Perspective, thy name is Cooke.