On February 13 of last year, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson was chasing a puck near the boards when former Penguin Matt Cooke came crashing in behind him. In what appeared to be an inadvertent mishap, Cooke’s skate made contact with Karlsson’s heel, lacerating his Achilles tendon. It was a devastating loss for Ottawa, as Karlsson was fresh off his Norris Trophy win in 2012 and was performing well.
In any other situation, this may have been all there was to it. An accident on the ice and a star player sent to the IR. However, since it involved Cooke, a controversy began cooking up.
Cooke, now with the Minnesota Wild, has more than a few black marks on his resume thanks to dirty hits. He effectively ended the career of Boston Bruins center Marc Savard in 2010, and has had to speak with the league several times since due to various head-shots. All of this was factored in when considering the Karlsson injury.
Almost immediately after the game, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk became hell-bent on trying to prove Cooke intended to slice Karlsson’s tendon. In fact, Melnyk claimed he was launching a “forensic investigation,” as he thoroughly believed Cooke meant to harm his star player.
Well, almost one year later, Melnyk is still at it. It was reported yesterday that he was meeting with the NHL to discuss his findings to this point during his investigation. Yes, Melnyk is meeting with league officials to show off what he’s discovered while playing detective over a hockey injury. Gruesome as the incident was, it’s well past time for the Sens owner to drop all of this.
Why? Well, two reasons mainly. First of all, Cooke was not given any sort of discipline for the hit. If he had been given a suspension, it might have given the league reason to look into the incident further, yet this wasn’t the case. Secondly, not only did Karlsson recover from the tendon injury, he rehabbed so quickly he was back in time for the postseason.
So, if Cooke wasn’t suspended, and Karlsson is back without any issue, why does Melnyk continue to pursue justice? What’s the point in trying to determine if there was any intent to harm?
For what it’s worth, Cooke is wondering the same thing. Though he respects Melnyk’s right to investigate the incident, he’s beyond confused as to why any sort of follow-up is still taking place. And though he’s been guilty of nasty hits in the past, there just isn’t enough evidence to prove Cooke tried to sever Karlsson’s Achilles.
More importantly, what evidence could Melnyk have gathered in the past year to change any of this? He’s had nothing but the same replays to look at since that game. It’s not like there are any witnesses to interview, or additional footage of Cooke telling a teammate “watch me end Karlsson’s year.”
Cooke is correct, the Senators owner has every right to keep pursuing this incident and whether or not there was intent. At the same time, there just doesn’t seem to be anyone else who’s endorsing the investigation. For the most part, the rest of the league has moved on, and it’s time for Melnyk to do the same.