2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

All suspensions are not created equal – and this is OK

Published: April 24, 2014, 6:03 pm, by Matt Wiley
Minnesota's Matt Cooke will not face the Avalanche again in the playoffs. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Minnesota’s Matt Cooke will not face the Avalanche again in the playoffs. (Photo by The Associated Press)

So Minnesota’s Matt Cooke apologized for his hit on the Avs’ Tyson Barrie. Fans in the Rocky Mountains seem upset that Cooke received a seven-game suspension. Some even pointed out how the NHL’s punishment wasn’t even as stiff as MLB’s against the Yankees’ Michael Pineda, who was suspended 10 games for using pine tar.

That comparison should stop immediately. Ten regular-season baseball games to a pitcher is the equivalent of one start. Big deal. A seven-game suspension for an NHL player during the playoffs could be the equivalent of an entire series, and possibly summer vacation.

Some have suggested Matt Cooke should be out as long as Tyson Barrie. There are so many flaws with this argument. There is no way to regulate how fast an injured player heals, and it is too hard to police. EXAMPLE: If the Avalanche were to win the series, and Barrie plays again in the playoffs – would that mean Cooke could play in the opener next season? If so, he wouldn’t even be suspended for the seven games that the NHL suspended him for Wednesday. What if Barrie came back too early and aggravated his injury? Then how long would Cooke be out? This structure doesn’t make sense. Variables need to be eliminated. It needs to be more black and white.

There needs to be a set of rules that every player is aware of before they commit such a play. The onus falls on the leagues to set and enforce the rules – not the players.  With that said, is there anyone who doesn’t think the players will police this incident themselves? There will be retaliation against the Wild. It might not come this series, it might not be against Cooke, but there will be a payback.

Leagues should simplify things – even pine tar suspensions. So I guess I don’t agree with Rays manager Joe Maddon who joked that pine tar should be legal in Colorado and Washington, just like pot according to Yahoo Sports.