I'm a little perturbed that I even have to write this...
Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Wild and the Avalanche saw a game by the Wild that may go down in franchise lore. Except on the day afterward we were all talking about Matt Cooke's return to form.
The Twitterverse, blogosphere, the tabloids(Denver Post), and the newspaper all reacted to the knee-on-knee collision that sent Colorado Avalanche defenseman, Tyson Barrie, to the shelf for 4-6 weeks, ultimately ending his time in this year's playoffs. Much hatred was spewed the Wild's and their fan-base's direction. There are some real gems from people out there actually defending the hit.
Like this one, for instance:
Or this beauty:
Or even this joyous little stint that I got into on Facebook:
Hey if playing dirty wins game, I hope cooke does it again. Refs had their whistles barried up their asses. Missed multiple tripping calls. High stick to coyle. Its the playoffs its going to get physical. If u cant watch good hockey with hard hitting go watch some figure skating
To which I replied: Dirty hockey is not good hockey...the hit was Bush League. (among other rants about the figure skating and such.)
Ooh, I love ones like this too:
This guy's name says it all:
This person brings shame to Wild fans:
It is really sad that there are fans that only see through green and red shaded glasses. A hockey fan, hell, a competitor in any sport, would never wish harm or ill will to the opposition. It is better knowing that you won with a lot of effort, hard work, and more skill than the other team rather than taking a win because one of your teammates injured a player on a questionable hit.
I understand that in a physical sport like hockey or football injuries can and do happen on seemingly benign plays. I also understand that there are many times questionable hits are the result of non-malicious intents. But regardless if the intent is there or not, the hit that Matt Cooke unleashed on Tyson Barrie is entirely suspend-able. Real hockey fans do not root for, applaud, or condone a player purposely trying to injure or maim another player. And when the play seems to happen accidentally, players need to be held accountable.
What is ridiculous is for the media to insinuate that head coach Mike Yeo told, persuaded, or otherwise coerced his players to take liberties on the Avalanche players.
Denver Post columnist: So you wanted Cooke to target specific guys? Yeo: "Don’t get into this, alright? I know where you want to spin this. But listen, I want our players when somebody is in front of them to finish their check. That’s hockey. So if you think that I’m saying, ‘Go take him out.’ No, you’re wrong. There’s a lot more respect in this game than that and we have a lot more respect for the game than that. So what we say to our guys is if you have an opportunity to finish your check, finish your check. And that’s the same thing that I’m sure that they’re saying there, too.
The Wild are not the hockey reincarnate of the 2009-10 New Orleans Saints. For this beat writer to broach this subject, or try and spin Yeo's comments into anything but what they are at face value, is just straight-up shoddy journalism...if you want to call it journalism. Wild beat writer for the Pioneer Press, Chad Graff, had his Twitter go berserk after he tweeted this:
Matt Cooke (team-high 12 hits this series) may be tasked with slowing MacKinnon. Cooke: "If that's the way that coach goes, I'll be ready."— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) April 20, 2014
"Slowing" was the word Graff used in his tweet, not the coaches, about away to for the Wild to limit MacKinnon's productivity. Avs' fans took it to the extreme, tipped off by AltitudeTV broadcaster Mark Rycroft, and assumed he meant that Yeo, which is untrue, wanted MacKinnon to get pummeled by Cooke.
I'm sorry, but I believe Yeo's words need to be taken at face value rather than having his words spun to satisfy his maniacal subscriber base. In fact, Dater attacked the Wild PR staff for not having players available after the game in this article. I'd tell you to read it, but I'd rather not give the guy and the Denver Post the page views.
I feel sorry for the cuckolded Wild PR staff, who never made Cooke available Monday night (probably on orders of management, but a media relations staff that gets it wouldn’t put up with that garbage) to be accountable for his actions. Hockey is all about "accountability" right?
Matt Cooke deserves all the time that he will be suspended for. And the Wild PR staff held a ton of restraint by not pulling Dater's creds after getting summarily attacked in his column. We will admonish the hit for what it was, but what it was not was some grand conspiracy conjured up by the Wild coaching staff.