Last week, as the Penguins' Matt Cooke crunched Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson into the boards at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center, Cooke's skate blade sliced into the left Achilles tendon of the defending Norris Trophy winner, ending his season and producing some truly awful images, from the still photo of Karlsson's face immediately after the incident to the video of Karlsson attempting to push off using his left skate, only to scream in pain and continue off the ice on just one foot.
Karlsson's injury is unfortunate for all sorts of reasons: It interrupts the career of a player who captured the Norris Trophy for best defenseman in just his third NHL season; it deprives fans in Ottawa and beyond the opportunity to watch one of the league's most exciting young players; and it forces the Senators, who are already playing without Jason Spezza, to fight for a playoff spot without another of its biggest stars. Members of the Senators organization are understandably upset with the turn their season has taken, but because of the involvement of Cooke -- who's been suspended five times in his career -- they're not necessarily chalking it up to the breaks of the game.
Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said after the game that "We all know who's involved in it," referring to Cooke. But the harshest words came from Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who in an interview with TSN, said that there's no place in the league for a player like Cooke. "To have him taken out by a goon is unconscionable," said Melnyk. "Whether it was accidental, or whether it was reckless, or whether it was intentional, to me it doesn't matter. It's something that never should have happened. This player should never be playing in this league. It's a league for elite players."