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Minnesota Wild forwards Zach Parise, Matt Cooke reach NHL milestones

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By Nick Stoico

It was a special night in St. Paul for two Minnesota Wild skaters: Zach Parise played in his 600th NHL game, which also happened to be Matt Cooke’s 1,000th.

Parise celebrated his milestone in style, putting the Wild on the board and adding an assist in a three-goal outburst in a 4:18 span in the first period against the Edmonton Oilers. It was the 22nd tally of the season for the Minneapolis native who is in his second season with the Wild after spending his first seven in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils. Parise is second on the team in goals and points (40) despite playing in just 49 of Minnesota’s 65 games thus far this season. (Unfortunately, the Wild couldn’t hold the lead and lost, 4-3, in a shootout.)

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  • Published On Mar 11, 2014
  • Mike Milbury calls for vigilante justice against Matt Cooke

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    By Allan Muir

    Now that Alex Ovechkin is back in his good graces, NBC Sports analyst Mike Milbury has a new target: Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke.

    Milbury struggled to find the right words to describe his disdain for the edgy forward ahead of tonight’s game between the Pens and Sens. He did not have any trouble describing what he’d like to see, though.

    “Should I try putrid? Cowardly? Because this guy’s a skunk, he’s a freakin’ skunk!” Milbury stammered. “I think somebody ought to set him straight and I hope it’s Ottawa tonight but if it doesn’t, I don’t care who it is.”

    “They might have to do something, just like the rest of the league,” he continued.

    Milbury acknowledged that Cooke had reformed his act somewhat after his vicious hit ended the career of Boston’s Marc Savard, but his game seems to be trending back towards the grey area after his hit on Erik Karlsson left the Ottawa defender with a sliced Achilles’ tendon. Case in point: his questionable hit on Boston’s Adam McQuaid on Saturday afternoon.

    “That’s either a charley horse if you’re lucky or a knee [injury] if you’re not,” Milbury said of that collision. “It’s gutless and it should be out of the game.”

    It’s been a banner week for Cooke haters. Boston announcer Jack Edwards was forced to apologize after comparing Cooke to Robert Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan during Saturday’s broadcast.


  • Published On Apr 22, 2013
  • Depth saves Penguins in injury plague

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    No team wins a championship without productive, selfless role players like winger Pascal Dupuis (left). (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    It’s nine Ws in a row for the Pittsburgh Penguins, all without Sidney Crosby, who has been absent for most of the season. And during these nine games, top defenseman Kris Letang has missed five and most of a sixth. Paul Martin, another top four defenseman, has missed the last two. Yet the Pens kept on winning. After defeating Boston on Sunday afternoon, Pittsburgh was a mere two points behind the Rangers for the top spot in the East before the Blueshirts eked out an overtime win that evening against the Islanders.

    How do the Penguins do it?

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  • Published On Mar 12, 2012
  • Red line rule won’t make NHL safer

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    The NHL game is faster because the players are in better shape and there’s less obstruction to slow them. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL’s general managers will gather for their annual March meeting next week and hints have been dropped by some to members of the media that they’d like to revisit the rule that makes possible one of hockey’s most exciting plays — the two-line stretch pass that leads to a breakaway.

    Ostensibly, this would be the GMs’ way of helping address the game’s concussion problem, the idea being that the NHL has gotten too fast in part because the two-line pass increases players’ speed and thus the force of collisions and the possibility of concussions. But various league sources say the GMs as a group won’t allow this rule — if it makes it onto the agenda — to be overturned. While there is certainly ongoing concern about concussions, the notion that the game is going to be somehow slowed to prevent them is not the direction the majority of managers want to take. Some of the less progressive GMs are still trying to turn back the clock, but they are in the minority.

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  • Published On Mar 08, 2012
  • Torres keeps Headshot Theatre rolling

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    By Stu Hackel

    Headshot Theatre is staying open late this season, maybe all the way into the playoffs, as Raffi Torres of the Canucks clobbered the Oilers’ Jordan Eberle in the video above during Tuesday night’s 2-0 Edmonton victory. The blow earned Torres a five-minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct. We’ll learn sometime before Thursday, when the Canucks host the Wild, if Torres will be suspended.

    Looking repeatedly at all three angles on the replay, it’s not clear that Torres actually led with his elbow. In fact, it looks more like contact was made with his shoulder. And if Hockey Ops sees it that way, too, Torres might not get any time off. Or he might, since Eberle’s head was targeted. Or he might not, because he was traveling north-south, which removes the blindside element. Hey, you never know.
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  • Published On Apr 06, 2011
  • Timing, team response key in Cooke’s ban

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    Even the Penguins wouldn’t defend Matt Cooke, a repeat offender who used a nationally televised game against the Rangers to tweak the NHL’s image at the worst time. (Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Matt Cooke and his suspension were the hot topics of conversation in the dressing room of our usual Tuesday night skate (along with why the Red Wings aren’t playing well and the Rangers are, the size of NHL goalies today and how well large netminders Pekka Rinne and Carey Price have done). But unlike in NHL dressing rooms, no one was putting microphones in our faces to record our thoughts.

    TSN got its mics in the faces of some Canucks and Canadiens yesterday (video) and these players were quite supportive of the NHL’s decision to suspend Cooke for the rest of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs. Their opinions were not surprising, considering the way various NHLers had reacted on Monday before the news of the suspension came down (video).

    Cooke remains a big item in the hockey world as discussions swirl about his suspension for elbowing the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh on Sunday. Cooke himself has said that he knows he has to change his game, and on Tuesday night the NHL on TSN panel of Bob McKenzie and ex-NHLers Mike Peca and Mike Johnson had a thoughtful discussion about whether he actually can change the way he plays (video).
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  • Published On Mar 23, 2011
  • Penguins’ reaction may be Matt Cooke’s strongest punishment

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    By Stu Hackel

    So many people are debating how long Matt Cooke should be suspended today for his gratuitous elbow (above) to the head of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh that you wonder if the NHL is passing up a great revenue opportunity. Why not license some wagering interest in Las Vegas to take over/under bets on the number of games for each supplementary discipline case that goes in front of Hockey Operations? Part of the league’s cut of the handle could go to the bottom line, part into the Players Emergency Fund along with the perpetrator’s lost salary, and that way, fans and the media can be a valuable part of the disciplinary process.

    Wisecracks aside, the sad fact is that regardless of how long Cooke is banned — and it will likely be for a while — NHL players have not yet gotten the message that this sort of on-ice behavior is unacceptable. Maybe they will next season, if and when the suspensions get longer. But not today.

    UPDATE: Cooke was suspended for the remainder of the regular season, 10 games, and the first round of the playoffs.

    And, yet, maybe more is needed besides increased fines, suspensions and loss of pay.
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  • Published On Mar 21, 2011
  • Spotlight’s on NHL GMs, head shots, discipline

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    Zdeno Chara’s devastating hit on Max Pacioretty turned up the heat on a long-simmering issue. (Jean-Yves Ahern/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    NHL general managers began meeting today in Boca Raton, Florida, and there is some thought that this gathering — coming after the increased public outcry against the rise in head injuries and the league’s leniency in punishing players who inflict them – may be the most important one in a while. Further steps to protect the head is a major agenda item.

    It’s uncertain at the moment how far the GMs will go in making changes to the existing rules and standards of supplemental discipline. But TSN, NBC and Sports Illustrated’s Pierre McGuire said on Ottawa radio Team 1200 (audio) that he had spoken to a number of GMs and league decision-makers and the GMs are “very serious.”  McGuire called them “an extremely motivated and focused group right now. They understand; they’re hearing the message of the fans. Most of the enlightened general managers don’t want to alienate the fan base of the National Hockey League and the corporate sponsors of the National Hockey League.”

    Just as last year when the GMs met in March in the shadow of the Matt Cooke – Marc Savard  blindside head shot, this year’s gathering will take place after Zdeno Chara’s hit badly injured Max Pacioretty, as well as a long string of incidents that includes the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby being out of the lineup since early January (Crosby skated today for the first time since being hit head-first into the boards by Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman on Jan. 5).

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  • Published On Mar 14, 2011
  • NHL out of touch on Pacioretty-Chara decision

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    By Stu Hackel

    It’s been a very hard couple of days for those of us who love hockey. Our first concern has to be for Max Pacioretty, whose future is uncertain — and not just as a player. The hockey world came only millimeters away from talking about his paralysis and he faces a difficult recovery.

    Our second concern has to be for the state of the sport because by failing to suspend the Bruins’ Zdeno Chara for even a couple of games, the NHL — once again — showed weakness instead of strength. It should have taken a harder stand on willfully dangerous play and other incidents that have cast the sport as barbaric and repugnant. It failed last year when Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke escaped punishment for concussing Boston’s Marc Savard. It failed when it reacted with minimal punishment last month after the Penguins-Islanders debacle. It fails with more consistency than it applies to punishing those who cross the line. Once again, it has failed to protect its players and its own image.
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  • Published On Mar 10, 2011
  • NHL response to Pens-Isles brawl not tough enough

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    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL has been on the edge and even gone over the top too often this season. On Friday night, for one game at least, it spun out of control. And the league’s subsequent disciplinary measures don’t go far enough to discourage players and teams from doing it again.
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  • Published On Feb 14, 2011


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