Williams slams Cooke hit

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

As soon as Jason Williams heard Boston Bruins star Marc Savard had been carted off the ice on a stretcher, he had to see exactly why.

Not out of morbid curiousity, but because he's been there.

The Detroit Red Wings forward didn't like what he saw from Sunday's hit Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke laid on Savard, a onetime member of the Calgary Flames.

"I thought it was dirty. If he throws his shoulder into his body, it's a hit," Williams said Monday.

"But he's in a vulnerable position, and (Cooke) goes at him. I don't think he elbowed him, but he went towards his head area when he easily could have gone to the body and taken him out of the play."

Williams was taken off the ice via stretcher a few years ago after a hard hit from then-Edmonton Oilers player Raffi Torres.

The NHL's GMs will meet this week and the subject of headshots -- which was on the agenda beforehand -- will be prominent.

Cooke led with his shoulder, and there are those who want the NHL to eliminate the grey areas to prevent even accidental hits such as that one laid on Savard.

"(Sidney) Crosby said it best," said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. "So I'm just going to quote him. 'We've been talking about it and talking about it -- it's time we made a decision about it instead of just talking about it. Is that a legal hit or an illegal hit?'

"These players all have got families and wives at home, and all want to be safe on the ice. I think it's important we look after one another, and the way to look after one another is simply have the fine and suspension long enough that they don't do it."

Cooke has twice been suspended for headshots in the past 14 months. He was banished for two games in January 2009 for a hit on Scott Walker of the Carolina Panthers and received a two-game suspension in November for hitting New York Rangers forward Artem Anisimov.

Cooke said he expected to hit Savard shoulder-to-shoulder and didn't want to hurt him.

Others aren't buying it.

"Look at his track record," Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr said. "I don't know how many times he's been suspended. It's never been a long one but those one- or two-gamers, and he's one of those guys you have to be aware of on the ice."

Regehr said any rule has to take into account players who leave themselves exposed, sometimes for the sake of drawing a penalty.

"You can't just put in a rule saying, 'We're banning head shots' and expect everyone to be OK and get rid of them," Regehr said. "It's a two-way street, not just the players making the hit but the others who put themselves in a vulnerable position."

ICE CHIPS

The Flames held an optional practice Monday, and only a handful of players attended. But it's likely there will be no changes from the lineup which beat the Minnesota Wild 5-2 Sunday, other than expect to see G Miikka Kiprusoff back between the pipes ... For the Wings, RW Todd Bertuzzi and C Pavel Datsyuk didn't practice, but head coach Mike Babcock said they'll both play. Bertuzzi left Sunday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks with a charley horse, while Datsyuk was sick ... G Jimmy Howard is pegged to start in net.


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