Tyson Barrie, defenceman for the Colorado Avalanche, was forced to leave Monday’s Game 3 in his team’s playoff matchup against the Minnesota Wild after sustaining an obvious knee injury. He was the victim of a late knee-on-knee hit by notorious cheapshot artist Matt Cooke. Barrie was able to leave the ice on his own, however he was limping heavily and did not return to the game. Cooke was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for kneeing, but many Avalanche fans are calling for further disciplinary action from the NHL.
Cooke has been suspended numerous times in his career, and has been reprimanded by the league, the media and fans for his dirty style of play. Obviously this means he will be treated as a repeat offender in this case when the NHL’s Department of Player Safety reviews the hit, right? WRONG. Because he has not been fined or suspended in 18 months, Cooke will not be treated as a repeat offender despite a rap-sheet longer than the magna carta.
On the play, Barrie had just played the puck and had his head down, and legs spread. Cooke came in after he’d played the puck, clearly leading with his knee. It remains up for debate whether or not he had time to stop, however he certainly did not show any intention of stopping. In fact, after Barrie played the puck, it looked like Cooke’s left knee was extended further.
In recent years, Cooke has advertised that he’s changing his mentality and style of play, after the 2011-12 season in which he received two suspensions for dangerous hits (one from behind on Fedor Tyutin, and an elbow to the head of Ryan McDonagh). However, this play is an indicator that he has not been completely rehabilitated.
The loss of Barrie is a huge blow for the Avalanche. They are already without top centre Matt Duchene, and now will be missing a top-4 defenceman in Barrie. It’s unclear how serious the injury is to Barrie, but he was heard saying “I’m done” as he came off the ice. This can’t bode well for Colorado, as they’ll need as much help as they can get on their playoff run – both in this series and (potentially) beyond.
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