The Penguins agitator, alleged to be reformed the past couple of seasons after a series of suspensions for his predatory ways, avoided suspension late Saturday night after he pasted Boston Bruins defenceman Adam McQuaid early in the second period.
Cooke was given a major for checking from behind and a game misconduct.
“Clearly it’s a hit right through the numbers,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said after the Penguins were beaten 3-0 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final.
“I don’t think it was a rough hit. I’m not sure I thought it warranted a five-minute penalty. But, you know, he did come right behind the guy, was going in with the guy. There you have it.”
The Bruins didn’t score on the three-minute power play, which would have been five had Chris Kelly not been assessed a minor for going after Cooke. McQuaid missed several shifts but returned to the game.
Whether Cooke’s hit on McQuaid is worthy of a suspension is debatable. Cooke’s history is well-known to anyone who knows what a puck is.
“We all know the history with Cookie, and it is going to be looked at and scrutinized a lot more because it is him,” Sidney Crosby said, “but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is a penalty because it is Cookie. If it is anyone (who did it), it is a penalty.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien veered away from the incident.
“I can’t comment on that stuff,” Julien said. “I didn’t see it clearly enough. Was (McQuaid) in that position ahead of time, that Cooke could see him in a vulnerable position? I don’t know. I’ll have to look at it.”
A hit levelled by Brad Marchand on James Neal, meanwhile, resulted in just a two-minute minor for the Bruins forward. It wasn’t any better than the Cooke’s hit on McQuaid. The crowd of 18,625 at the Consol Energy Center let referees Brad Watson and Chris Rooney know how upset they were collectively when they rained boos down on the officials.