Utter the name “Matt Cooke” in Boston and you know the reactions you’ll get.
Utter the same name in Phoenix, and most folks probably won’t know whom you’re talking about. Say it in the Phoenix Coyotes’ dressing room, however, and you’ll find some angry hockey players.
That’s because Cooke hit Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle with a forearm to the head in the middle of a 5-0 game.
“It’s just a dirty hit,” Yandle said after the 6-1 Penguins win, according to the McKeesport Daily News. “Dirty player. He’s got no respect. … His only intent was to hurt me with his hands high like that, and I hope [league officials] review it.”
What had the Coyotes fired up — aside from getting demolished on the scoreboard — was that Cooke wouldn’t answer the bell after laying the questionable hit.
“The fact that Matt Cooke comes at Keith Yandle in a 5-0 game and elbows him in the head, obviously we took it as a personal challenge,” captain Shane Doan told the newspaper.
“They’re up 5-0, and he cowers away from all our guys,” Yandle said. “I mean, every guy on our team tried to fight him.”
As with any story, though, there are many sides. For instance, one Bleacher Report contributor wrote that Cooke’s hit was valuable to the Penguins, as it forced the Coyotes to pay more attention to Cooke than the stars who could actually score goals.
“A guy like Cooke, whether you hate him or not, is exactly the type of player the superstars love,” wrote Mark Lesko, who, based on the tone of that piece, just might be a bit of Penguins fan. “He takes all the attention and has no problem doing so. Cooke loves being hated, and it’s that attitude that will help keep [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin safe, especially in blowout games.”
Cooke was whistled for roughing, and that was essentially that. Yandle said he hopes Cooke will get suspended for the hit, but take it from Boston, Keith: This guy’s done a lot worse and skated free. You probably shouldn’t hold your breath.
Update, 3 p.m.: Video has finally surfaced on the web. Watch below.
And here’s why Cooke might have been hesitant to drop the gloves.