Don Cherry came to the defence of an old nemesis on Saturday night.
The Hockey Night in Canada commentator said Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke did not intentionally try to injure Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson last week, despite the Penguins’ history of violence that has led to numerous suspensions.
Karlsson suffered a 70 per cent laceration of his Achilles’ tendon on the play, and will likely be out three to four months, after Cooke’s skate came up high and bit into the back of the Senators’ best player on a check into the boards.
“No, he didn’t do that [on purpose],” Cherry said, on his Coach’s Corner segment of Hockey Night in Canada. “It was a freak accident. No human being would do that.
“I think he was just trying to take him in there [to the boards] … it was an accident.”
Cherry has been highly critical of Cooke in the past, one that includes numerous violent incidents by the players against fellow NHLers and has been suspended five times.
Included in his career highlights are a hit from behind on Fedor Tyutin of Columbus, in February of 2011, a knee-on-knee hit on Alex Ovechkin of Washington two days previously, a 2010 blindside smack on Boston’s Marc Savard that led to changes to head shot rules, a hit to the head of New York’s Artem Anisimov in 2009 and another on Scott Walker of Carolina.
Cherry, however, believes that Cooke “has changed his routine” in recent times.
As for Karlsson, the former Boston coach pleaded with players young and old to wrap tape around the area at the top of skates to ensure an opponent’s blade would slide right down and not catch against the Achilles.
“Twenty years I coached and played, we never had one Achilles heel cut,” Cherry said.