Intentional or not, reckless or not (and I happen to think “not” on both accounts), the man who was responsible for the devastating injury to Erik Karlsson Wednesday night will be the target of the ire of Sens fans for the rest of his career.
Given Cooke’s past history, it is easy to point the finger at him, but the fact is that it could have happened to him, Chris Neil or Lady Byng trophy winner Brian Campbell. It was a freak accident that befell the best defenseman in the league, if not the best player in the league. It was a checker finishing his check that had devastating implications for the Ottawa Senators, already smarting from the loss of Jason Spezza for a majority of the season.
The anger directed towards Cooke, because of the play and who he is, will not abate. But I don’t place the blame on him. Nor do I blame the fans for the way they feel.
I haven’t cried over a hockey game since the Flames lost in the Stanley Cup Final in 1986 to the Canadiens. I came close to shedding a tear for Karlsson last night. I am angry and sad and despondent over the injury, but I don’t really blame Cooke, although I understand where those who do are coming from.