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A nice article on Matt Cooke. No, really.

Guest radoran

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Some insight, IMO, into what was wrong with what the other Pens were doing

The NHL needs to get to the point where the risk of an illegal play clearly outweighs the potential reward – where it's just not worth crossing the line, even though the fans are roaring for blood and the coaches want checks finished and the emotion is high and the Stanley Cup is at stake. The league has to scare 'em straight and then help them toe the fine line. The players have to take responsibility and make the effort to change.

And we have to realize it's a work in progress. It's always a work in progress. It doesn't stop.

A lot of people were wondering how Cooke stayed out of trouble in all the Game 3 shenanigans. He did it because it was the right thing to do (and he'd get slammed by the league if he didn't).

Cooke was tentative much of the season, but this is where the education part comes in. It's not just what not to do. It's also what to do. We want good, hard, intense physical hockey, not just skating and scoring and fancy-pants plays, and Cooke needs to be a good, hard, intense, physical player to bring full value.

And this is the "fine line"

Cooke has learned how to evaluate the situation before delivering a hit, from video and experience. He has learned to look for little things. On the forecheck, if he sees a defenseman turn face-first to the boards, he needs to tap the guy's stick and ride his hips. If a lefthanded opponent is skating up the right side, the tendency is to turn face-first to the boards, so Cooke had better be aware that it could happen in case it does happen.

"In the past, I always just approached it to go for the biggest hit possible," Cooke said. "Last second, 'Oh, it's going to get ugly,' maybe, and try and pull out. It doesn’t work. On the fly, you can't decide like that, after committing to go that way. …

"So it's being physical, but not trying to crunch them. Just body up against them into the boards."

It's the difference between the biggest hit and the best play.

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Cooke did throw a deliberate knee on Jagr and got away with it. He ain't so pretty even now.

I'm not saying he's a choir boy - far from it. But his game has been much more under control as a result of steps the league has taken.

If you can teach a NHL player how to play this responsibly, you can certainly teach them at earlier levels.

And the League needs to make a similar statement to some of his teammates.

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