Karlsson's lacerated achilles and ensuing surgery will keep him out for the rest of the NHL season. It was one of the more emotional moments in Sens history. It also touched off great debate among hockey fans and media. Did Matt Cooke do it on purpose? It seems like most people outside the city of Ottawa believe he didn't.
Wretched character that he is, I don't believe Cooke ever said to himself, “Well, I'm in position to cut Karlsson's leg here, so I will!” I don't, however, think it was a total accident. A total accident is when there's no one to blame. Like the case in Edmonton last year, where Corey Potter accidentally stepped on Taylor Hall's face in warm up.
At the time of the Karlsson injury, Cooke was attempting to pin Karlsson up against the boards. However, he did so with all the famous Cooke recklessness and all the precision of a 170 pound Atom-aged player.
Here's how that move is done safely and legally. As you bodycheck a player into the boards, you freeze him there for a split second then roll or turn their upper body so their chest up is facing against the boards. At the same time, keeping your skates on the ice, you move your knee up against the boards between the opponent's legs. Your weight is all on your outside leg, pushing in.
That's it. At no time, under no circumstances, does this skill call for the things Cooke added to the mix.
- Begin by hooking your opponent's stick up over his head. (On the contrary, players are taught to keep their stick on the ice to acquire the puck after the pin).
- Get your lead skate 12 inches off the ice.
- Get your lead knee up into the player's lower spine.
- Get your weight onto the leg nearest the boards.
- Slam your skate down and hope it's in the right spot to make the pin, even though you now have no idea where your opponent's legs are.
Cooke's skate is off the ice because he's hooking Karlsson. Picture how your front foot would come up if you were a fisherman hauling in a big catch. So, because he's reckless, Cooke still tries to enter an attempt to pin with his skate in air. Bad plan. Reckless. The play started recklessly and it ended recklessly.
I've heard analysts argue, “Come on, recklessness happens in hockey all the time. You can't punish recklessness or we'd be suspending everyone!”
Reckless (adj.) = Indifferent to or disregardful of consequences. Uh-huh. So you don't want to punish players who fail to think of consequences? Because it's common? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. It's exactly what's wrong with the NHL justice system and its general mindset.