My Thoughts On The “Matt Cooke Hatefest” – And You Might Not Like Them


In case you are not aware of it, there is a group of Senators’ fans organizing a “Matt Cooke Hatefest” at the Pittsburgh-Ottawa game Monday night. Essentially there are posters being made and they plan to jeer the Pittsburgh forward…well you can read the CBC feature article on the “event” HERE.

Feb 13, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) is helped off the ice after being injured during the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

For my two cents (or since the penny was discontinued, my nickel) I don’t see the reason for such an event.  Sure, the injury to Erik Karlsson happened at the hands (or rather the foot) of Cooke, who has had a rocky reputation over the past few years, but I don’t see how anyone could watch that play and think it was the intended result.  I realize I might be in the minority among Sens Fans to have this opinion, but it is how I have always felt since Feb 13rth when the incident happened.

But just like I stated when owner Eugene Melnyk went all CSI and said they would prove Cooke did it intentionally, I feel it was an accident.  Just like when Marian Hossa‘s high stick caught Bryan Berard‘s eye.  Just that, an accident. Remember how upset Sens Army was when Pat Quinn wouldn’t let that one go for years?  That’s just what this looks like.

Does Cooke sometimes straddle the line between right and wrong on the ice? Absolutely, but he isn’t the only one.

Do I think Cooke went in to finish his check hard on a star player?  Absolutely, that is his job.

Do I think for one second he went into that collision with the intent to put Karlsson out for months? No.  The fact Karlsson’s achilles tendon was almost severed could not have been the intended result, and Cooke was just finishing his check on a star player, like he is supposed to.  The game happens fast, and there is no way Cooke, who wasn’t even looking in the direction of Karlsson’s feet, could intend to surgically strike his skate blade inside the boot of Karlsson’s skate.

Did the incident cost Karlsson a second consecutive Norris Trophy?  There’s no doubt in my mind.

While I normally support what the group that calls themselves the Red Scarf Union does to promote and support the Senators, I can’t get behind them on this one. I understand people are angry, and the fact that Cooke has a history with discipline might lead some people to the opinion that it was on purpose.  Combine that with the fact that it was the Senators’ best player that it happened to and they are looking for someone to point the finger at.  And if it was elbow to the head or check from behind into the boards type of reckless, I might tend to agree.  But I don’t feel that this was malicious to the extent that the organizers of this event seem to think.

As for the “Dany Heatley Hatefest”, I was all for it.  Heatley made a conscious decision to turn his back on this team and this city, without explaining his reasons for wanting out.  Karma got him, just like it will Cooke if the hockey gods feel it is warranted.

I just feel the “Matt Cooke Hatefest”, especially given what is going on in the States this week, is ill-timed and ill-conceived.  Public enemy #1?  Not really. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t even on the radar.  Sure,  Boo Coke if you want, just like Leafs fans boo Daniel Alfredsson.  We all know how much we like that now don’t we?  What if it had been Chris Neil finishing his check on Kris Letang and the Penguins fans started a “Chris Neil Hatefest”?  Sens Army would lose its collective mind.

In my opinion, cheer on your own team and rally around the fact that Karlsson is nearing a return, the Senators are playoff bound, and the Captain is playing well enough to give us 2 or 3 more years, let alone one.

The Senators need to focus on playing against one of the best teams in the league in a very important game, and cannot worry about exacting revenge.  Its time to start cheering for our own, instead of jeering the opponents.  Use your great passion to boost the Senators, not to respond to something that happened two months ago. The rest is just wasted effort.

Just like Melnyk’s forensic crusade against Cooke, this “Matt Cooke Hatefest” makes Sens Army look whiny and downright silly in the eyes of the rest of the league, as well as some of their fellow Senators fans, including this one.