Hitting Matt Cooke in the Head is Perfectly Fine

There will be no hearing for John Carlson, despite his head shot on Matt Cooke yesterday.

From the Washington Times:

Look at the replay, especially in slow motion, and it's clear John Carlson caught Matt Cooke's head with his arm. It was late in the Capitals' 2-1 loss to the Penguins, and many thought it could lead to a suspension or maybe just a fine.

But Carlson will not even have a hearing with NHL VP of player safety Brendan Shanahan, league spokesman John Dellapina confirmed in an email to The Washington Times.

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It appeared that Cooke's head was the principle point of contact, something that has led to hearings and supplemental discipline this season. But Cooke was not injured on the play, and it did not look like a malicious play by Carlson.

Of course there's no suspension, because the person who got hit was Matt Cooke. We understand that Cooke doesn't get much sympathy around the league and that's understandable, but if the NHL really wants to eliminate head shots and make sure players are accountable for their actions, there should have at least been a hearing in this situation.

Carlson should have at least received a fine. Yes, it probably wasn't a malicious play, but it was still a hit directly to the head. What does Rule 48 say again?

48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered.

The only way the Carlson/Cooke hit isn't a suspension/fine is if it's determined that Cooke "put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check." Maybe the vulnerable position Matt Cooke put himself in was "being Matt Cooke."

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