By: Adam Gretz
Matt Cooke is probably never going to get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to any play that is even remotely close to being dirty or against the rules.
Given his history and the list of plays that make up what is basically a career lowlight film, he doesn't really deserve the benefit of the doubt at this point, either. But that doesn't change the fact that he has made a legitimate effort to clean up his game this season after numerous suspensions, including one last season that turned out to be a 17-game banishment (10 regular season games and all seven of Pittsburgh playoff games) for a hit to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
In 46 games this season Cooke has been issued just 14 penalty minutes, a total that over 430 players in the NHL have topped this season, including 12 of his own teammates. Because he's Matt Cooke, however, guilt is always going to be assumed when he's the focal point, as it was on Thursday night for an alleged slew foot incident during the Penguins' 4-1 win against the New York Rangers that put him squarely in the crosshairs on Friday
This is the play in question, via Empty Netters' Seth Rorabaugh:
You can see another angle (and get some expert commentary) by clicking here.
Cooke has done some bad things on the ice in his career, but this isn't even close to being one of them, even if the Rangers believe it was a slew foot. Richards did not participate in the Rangers' skate on Friday.
There was no penalty called on the play, and according to TSN's Darren Dreger, he won't face any discipline from the NHL.
And he shouldn't, because that's not a slew foot. At its worst it's tripping, at the very least it's two players getting their feet tangled up as they turn into each other going for the puck. Pretty common occurrence, and if it involved almost any player in the league likely wouldn't have even been a blip on the NHL's radar on Friday.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.