PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The NHL has made its decision regarding Matt Cooke.

Cooke will be suspended for the rest of the season plus the first round of the playoffs, giving up nearly $220,000 in salary.

KDKA’s Bob Pompeani reports this is the longest suspension in Penguins’ history.

The suspension stems from the elbow he landed on the jaw of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

The NHL released a statement quoting Colin Campbell, senior executive vice president of hockey operations.

Campbell called Cooke a “repeat offender” and said the league had to respond.

“This isn’t the first time this season that we have had to address dangerous behavior on the ice by Mr. Cooke, and his conduct requires an appropriately harsh response,” he said in the statement.

Penguins GM Ray Shero stands behind the NHL’s decision, saying head shots have no place in the game.

“We’ve told Matt in no uncertain terms that this kind of action on the ice is unacceptable and cannot happen,” he said in a statement. “Head shots must be dealt with severely, and the Pittsburgh Penguins support the NHL in sending this very strong message.”

Cooke’s latest hit happened at center ice just under five minutes into the third period. Cooke was given a five-minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct.

The Penguins went on to lose the game 5-2.

This is Cooke’s fifth career suspension. Three of his previous suspensions have involved hits to the head or hits from behind.

Last month, Cooke was suspended for four games for hitting Columbus’ Fedor Tyutin from behind.

The Penguins are in Detroit to take on the Red Wings tonight at 7:30 p.m.


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