Terrible timing, says Oilers GM

Robert Tychkowski, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:27 AM ET

MONTREAL — Steve Tambellini admits the timing is terrible.

General managers emerge from high-priority meetings in Florida determined to crack down on head shots and punish those who prey on vulnerable opponents, and the first thing the NHL does is give Matt Cooke a free pass for trying to decapitate Marc Savard.

Tambellini said this is a perfect example of why things need to change.

“Going forward that will not be a legal hit, the league will be able to take action on something like that,” said the Oilers GM, adding the letter of the law right now says there’s nothing wrong with head hunting.

“Under the older rules, he didn’t do anything illegal. That’s why the language is going to change.”

The lack of respect and the mounting injury total began when the NHL brought in the instigator penalty — dirty players like Cooke would be a lot more scared of getting jumped by Dave Brown than getting their wrists slapped by Colin Campbell — but Tambellini says the argument for bringing it back is dead.

There is no appetite among GMs to let players police themselves.

“I don’t think that’s going to come back, if you take a look at what the hockey looked like back then,” he said, adding it’s just a matter of weeding out the Cooke-like element in the NHL. “There’s a small group that has evolved that will prey on a vulnerable player. It’s not a large group, but it seems like it’s a consistent group. I know the league and Colie are going to react quite harshly.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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