Matt Cooke’s Blindside Hit on Marc Savard Leaves NHL Searching for Answers

Matt Cooke's Blindside Hit on Marc Savard Leaves NHL Searching for Answers It’s one of those hits that every time you see it, you cringe.

You know the one I’m talking about. The hit the Penguins' Matt Cooke put on Marc Savard in the third period of Sunday’s game.

Haven't seen it? Here you go. But I'll warn you, I've watched it countless times, and every time, undoubtedly, I shudder. 

First of all, you never, ever, want to see a player down on the ice, only moving his hand, then carried off in a stretcher. Regardless of sport, regardless of reason, it is simply not a sight any coach, player or fan wants to witness. I think I can speak for everyone when I say I hope the best for Savard. The Bruins released a statement after the game saying, "Marc lost consciousness briefly on the ice after being struck in the head.  He suffered a concussion from the hit."
 
Savard flew back to Boston on Monday afternoon.

"I don't even remember taking the shot," he told the Boston Herald. "I remember generally most of the game, but up around that point, I totally don't remember any of it."

OK, so it's good news that Savard was medically cleared to fly, and didn't spend Sunday night in the hospital, but concussions tend to be difficult issues, and the road to recovery is very unclear.
 
What is not good news for the NHL is a player suffering a concussion after a blindside hit to the head. It's an issue up for discussion this very week. NHL general managers are debating what penalty, if any, players like Cooke should be dealt. Bruins head coach Claude Julien made his feelings known following Sunday's game.

"A guy like that has to be suspended," Julien said. "That's the way I see it, because it's an elbow to the head from the blind side. That's exactly the examples they show of what we've got to get out of this game. We have a guy who's got a concussion. Our best player. He's going to be out a while."
 
"A while" remains undefined. For now, all we know is that Savard will miss at least three games. League policy requires players to sit for a week after being diagnosed with a concussion. But Savard could miss far more time. David Booth of the Panthers missed 43 games after a similar hit from the Flyers' Mike Richards in October.
 
At this time of year, one game is critical. The Bruins currently occupy the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but the standings are jumbled. Six teams are separated by only seven points. Clearly, points are precious, and the Bruins' leading scorer will be missed. 

So what penalty, if one is handed down to Cooke, is severe enough? Accidents are part of any sport, but unless you're naive enough to believe Cooke's words, this was no accident. I can't say I envy the NHL GMs — and league disciplinarian Colin Campbell — as they search for an answer.

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