Bruins get a measure of payback

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

BOSTON - It took less than two minutes for them to get what they wanted, a measure of retribution.

It won’t make their best forward come back any faster or make his life, spent mostly in a darkened room, any more pleasant.

But the Boston Bruins and their fans got a measure of satisfaction, I suppose, when B’s enforcer Shawn Thornton punched Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke to the ice a minute and 58 seconds into the game Thursday night at TD Garden.

That was about all they got as the Bruins lost 3-0.

It’s what passes for payback for Cooke knocking out Bruins star forward Marc Savard with a blatant elbow to an unsuspecting Savard’s head March 7.

Savard suffered a Grade 2 concussion and is expected to be out for the rest of the season, but Cooke was not penalized on the play or suspended for the hit, deemed legal under existing rules.

Cooke woke up Thursday morning to find his smirking face on the front page of the local tabloid in the middle of a poster which said, “WANTED...at least one Bruin willing to teach this bum a lesson.”

Thornton appeared anxious to be that Bruin and get it over with. His frustration with the situation was palpable after the morning skate as he was swarmed at his stall, sparring with the media over how, why and why didn’t the Bruins avenge the Cooke hit on the spot?

“I’ll be happy when this (bleeping) game is over,” muttered Thornton as the media horde dispersed.

Cooke was anxious for the same thing, according to Penguins insiders.

“I saw him and asked him,” said Thornton, “and he knew what had to be done.”

Cooke gave up three inches and 12 pounds to Thornton and got in a good punch before going down. Thornton continued to throw after the linesmen arrived, and was assessed a 10-minute misconduct for doing so.

Was it worth it?

“We weren’t short a man,” said Thornton.

“The fight was a fight,” said Cooke of the extra punches. “Things happen. I’ve got nothing else to say.”

Cooke was contrite after the game, explaining he’s tried to reach out to Savard, only to be rebuffed.

“For me, I didn’t intend on hurting Marc Savard at all. I’m sorry that he’s hurt,” said Cooke. “I’ve tried to reach out and contact him a few times, but unfortunately, whoever the right people are won’t give me his number.”

After the fight, the teams stuck to hockey, which was an unfortunate turn for the Bruins who turned in another pathetic offensive effort.

In Thornton’s mind, the book is closed on Cooke. If only it were that easy for the NHL. The NHL has been trying to railroad through a new rule making hits like that illegal and subject to suspension, but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen until next season.

NHL executive vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell, who was at the game Thursday night, found time earlier in the day to hand out an eight-game suspension to Anaheim Ducks forward James Wisniewski for his leaping, high hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook Wednesday night.

The severity of that suspension indicates the league is turning the screws on perpetrators of headshots, but there’s still nothing to address hits like Cooke’s on Savard.

This morning the Bruins are still without Savard and their grip on the final playoff spot is helped only by the ineptitude of their closest rival, the New York Rangers, who they play Sunday.

In the third period, it sounded like a group fans up near the rafters were shouting, “We want blood.”

With the way their team was playing, it’s not sure if they wanted Cooke’s or some of the Bruins.'


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