The Pittsburgh Penguins have been informed by the NHL that forward Matt Cooke will not be suspended for his hit on Boston's Marc Savard during last Sunday's 2-1 Penguins win.
Savard suffered a grade-two concussion when Cooke hit him with a shoulder to the head in open ice during a game on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Talking to the media at the conclusion of the annual NHL general meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said the ruling was based on consistency involving similar incidents. For instance, Philadelphia's Mike Richards was not suspended for a similar hit on Florida's David Booth during an Oct. 24 game. That precedent dictates Cooke is not to be suspended either.
On Wednesday, the NHL's general managers recommended a new penalty be given for "a lateral, back pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and or the principal point of contact is not permitted."
If the rule is adopted, it will take effect next season. Campbell said that if the Cooke-Savard incident was evaluated under the new rule, Cooke would have been suspended for his hit on Savard. What's more, Campbell said suspensions for repeat offenders will be stiffer yet under the proposed rule change.
Cooke has been previously suspended twice for delivering hits to the head while committing a penalty (both times interference). He was banned for two games last November following a deliberate check to the head area of New York Rangers center Artem Anisimov, plus two more in Jan. 2009 for delivering a hit to the head of Carolina Hurricanes' forward Scott Walker.