After much deliberation, the Department of Player Safety made its ruling.
Avalanche fans certainly are unhappy. Wild fans have a range of reactions. The fact of the matter is that a seven-game suspension for a knee-on-knee during the playoffs is reasonable.
Here are some things to consider. First, it's the playoffs. Fair or not, playoff games are weighted heavier than regular season games. A 7-game suspension in the playoffs would probably equate to a 10- to 12-game suspension in the regular season. Second, it was a knee, not a head. Targeting the head gets those huge suspensions. This is actually quite significant for a kneeing incident. The following factors were taken into consideration when determining the supplementary discipline:
- Distance traveled with an extended knee
- Further extension of the knee to ensure contact
- The force of the impact
- Resulting injury to an opponent
- Cooke's history...sort of
Cooke technically is not officially a repeat offender according to the DoPS, but his past did influence the decision...some. From the DoPS explanation video:
"Cooke is not considered a repeat offender under the CBA as he has not been subjected to supplemental discipline since March of 2011. However, Cooke has been fined or suspended nine previous times during his 15-season NHL career."
The DoPS really had an opportunity here to send a message. It didn't. The onus, however, is on the refs. Had they been calling the game tighter, this never would have happened. While the idea of "letting the boys play" is a romantic notion, there are limits. The refs need to figure them out.
The best thing we can do right now is exactly what the Avalanche players are doing: focus on the games at hand. Yes, we are all upset about the loss of Tyson Barrie, nobody more than I am. However, there is a playoff series still in play here, and that's where we need to turn our attention.
The Avs will not see Cooke for the rest of Round 1. Time to set that aside and put positive energy into winning.
Here's the official explanation video: