The Ottawa Senators lost a crucial game last night because they were too obsessed by Penguins winger Matt Cooke.
Joining the Sens in their obsession: NBC Sports' MIKE MILBURY.
Milbury's mismanagement did more damage to the New York Islanders franchise than Cooke's skate blade could do to a thousand Achilles tendons, but Milbury still saw clear to call Cooke a "skunk" and demand vigilante justice.
Hockey has no place for vigilante justice. The name-calling doesn't bother me. Cooke played borderline hockey for over a decade. He made his bed. No sympathy. What's Milbury supposed to call Cooke? How about "Miss Congeniality"?
Milbury is in the business of being inflammatory. I see him at union meetings. He's a dope, but there's no shortage of dopes on TV and radio.
Last night's real story was the Senators subverting what's important to wage war on Cooke. They should have let sleeping does lie. The Penguins had zero motivation to compete until the Sens provided it. Two points gone. Playoff berth fading.
Cooke's edge seems to be returning. He's playing for a contract, but won't get one in Pittsburgh. The old Cooke is more valuable than the new Cooke. Cooke is hawking his wares. Barring untimely penalties, that could help in the playoffs.
It will be best when the Pens and Cooke part company. What if Simon Despres gets his head taken off by Chris Neil because the Sens are mad at Cooke? Lots of other scrums, too, and it all flowed from Cooke. Too much collateral damage.
But last night was Cooke's finest hour. Totally in the Sens' heads. A distraction throughout. Then Cooke wins a puck battle and sets up the clinching goal. VINTAGE.