PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 20: Defenseman Erik Johnson #6 of the St. Louis Blues defends against left wing Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 20, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Matt Cooke reached out to Erik Karlsson and apologized for the freak, disturbing injury that likely ended the young defenseman's season. As seen in a report by the Winnipeg Sun, Cooke texted Karlsson but wasn't sure if the young star would respond to his apology.
Cooke's apology comes a day after Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk stated he didn't believe Cooke deserved to play in the NHL given his colorful past.
Melnyk was quoted by the Ottawa Sun:
"This guy should be kicked ... He doesn't belong in the league. He belongs somewhere where the goons play. Get him in the Central league. He can be a $60,000-a-year guy playing pick-up hockey there."
"The guy does not deserve ... He's got one purpose. I remember when this happened with Spezza. I said, 'If these are the rules, I just want to know.' We'll play with the same rules. Make sure you have one or two goons whose job is to do this either intentionally or unintentionally.
"I'm OK with it, just tell me I'm OK with it. I play by the rules. I'm just shocked an organization would do this."
Melnyk certainly isn't one to hide his opinions. He has every right to be frustrated and upset by the situation, but he needs to take a step back and examine the situation for what it truly is. The devastating injury to Erik Karlsson was an accident. It was a horrible, brutal accident but it was still an accident. Sometimes things like this just happen. The replay of the injury is tough to watch but you won't find any malicious intent or premeditated thought behind Cooke stepping on the back of Karlsson's leg.
It's an extremely bad break for the Ottawa Senators, but there's no reason that Melnyk should be fuming about Cooke and stating he doesn't deserve to play in the NHL. You could make a pretty solid case against the Matt Cooke of old - you know, the one that had three consecutive seasons of 100+ penalty minutes - but the current version that caused the injury is innocent.
Whether you choose to see it or not, Matt Cooke has changed. In 2011-12 he had just 44 penalty minutes - two more than Erik Karlsson's total of 42. His demeanor on the ice is notably different. He avoids reckless plays instead of initiating them. You can see in his interviews that he views the game in a new, improved light.
Melnyk's comments are ridiculous. His statement about how he's shocked an organization would do this shows just how out of touch with reality he is. The flurry of emotion is understandable, but it doesn't give you the right to make outlandish, slanderous statements.
Want to see a premeditated injury? There are plenty of examples out there on YouTube. Cooke's hit on Karlsson wasn't one of them.