Several weeks ago, Mark Savard of the Boston Bruins was severely injured when blind-sided with a blow to the head, administered by Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins. No penalty was called by the referees, who seemed to have turned their backs on a potential game misconduct and looked more like three blind mice.
It was a scary moment to see Savard lying motionless on the ice and being carried off on a stretcher. It was later announced that he had suffered a grade-2 concussion and would be out for the remainder of the season.
Cooke walked away without being assessed a game misconduct or suspension. After reviewing the game film, the National Hockey League commissioner said there was no justification to suspend Cooke.
Fighting among players has always existed in hockey, but head-hunting must be stopped immediately by the league before a player becomes permanently disabled or even killed.
Later, when Pittsburgh played Boston March 18, there was anticipation of a possible retaliation. As it turned out, the Penguins won the game but the Bruins won the fights.
The commissioner was in attendance at the game and he later said on television that he was sticking by his decision not to take any action to suspend Cooke.
I believe the commissioner failed to use sound judgment. That call will go down in history as being questionable. The NHL must take immediate measures, measures that should have been implemented five years ago, to stop head-hunting and suspend offenders indefinitely.
Robert P. Lacombe, Sabattus