PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Penguins forward Bill Guerin says the NHL must outlaw hits to the head.
That includes the kind of hit levelled by Guerin’s teammate, Matt Cooke, against the Boston Bruins’ Marc Savard.
Savard is out indefinitely with a Grade 2 concussion sustained during a shoulder-to-head hit by Cooke on Sunday. But wasn’t suspended for the incident.
NHL enforcement chief Colin Campbell said precedent was set when the Flyers’ Mike Richards wasn’t suspended for a similar hit on Florida’s David Booth this season.
NHL general managers recommended during their meeting Wednesday that a blind-side hit to the head – or the kind Cooke inflicted upon Savard – should not be permitted.
Guerin expected Cooke to be suspended.
“If a guy gets hurt like that with a shot to the head, there’s got to be something,” Guerin said. “Actions happen.
“Guys don’t mean to hurt each other, but they do. You got to pay a price for that.”
Guerin said players must know they can play the game with protection against hits to the head, especially those that a player can’t see coming.
“We’re all under the same umbrella, whether the guy’s on my team and I’m sitting right next to him or he’s playing in California,” Guerin said. “It doesn’t matter. We’re all playing in the same league.
“We all want the same safety. We all want to be looked after the same way. I understand he (Cooke) is on my team but, hey, he’s in a tough spot.”
The Penguins play the Bruins for the fourth and final time this season March 18 in Boston.
Cooke has been suspended previously for hard hits.
Cooke was suspended two games this season for a hit to the head of Rangers centre Artem Anisimov. He also drew a two-game suspension for a hitting Carolina forward Scott Walker in the head Jan. 20, 2009.
Cooke was not suspended for a knee-to-knee hit on Carolina’s Erik Cole that occurred during last season’s Eastern Conference final.