Penguins Notebook: No punishment for Cooke after Karlsson play

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Penguins winger Matt Cooke got word Thursday that he will not be subject to any discipline for a play Wednesday night that left star Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson out for the season.

Cooke got the word from general manager Ray Shero, who got the word from Brendan Shanahan, the head of the NHL's player safety department.

"I just talked to Ray," Cooke said after the team practiced at Southpointe and before a flight to Winnipeg for the game tonight.

"He said that Brendan called and said that he understands that it was an accident. I'll just go on as I was."

Late in the second period of the Penguins' 4-2 win at Consol Energy Center, Cooke's skate cut the back of Karlsson's lower leg while the two were up against the boards in a battle for the puck.

Karlsson, 21 and the Norris Trophy winner last year as the league's top defenseman, had surgery Thursday to repair his Achilles tendon, which was cut about 70 percent through.

"I watched the play," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "It was unfortunate, the outcome. It's a tough injury."

News of Karlsson's injury reverberated around the hockey world, and, in some quarters, Cooke was seen as a willing culprit. He continued to insist there was no intent.

He also knows how things might go if one of the Penguins' stars got a season-ending injury.

"I understand that," Cooke said. "If it was [Sidney Crosby] or [Kris Letang], I'm sure the initial reaction in Pittsburgh and within our team would be to be really upset.

"But, if you look at the video, it's purely an accident. ... It was so quick. It's unfortunate."

Adjusting to tough schedule

To play 48 games in 99 days in a lockout-shortened season, teams are taking measures to manage their time and rest.

This week, for example, the Penguins had an optional morning skate Sunday before a home night game against New Jersey after playing an afternoon game the day before in New Jersey.

Monday was a full day off. Tuesday was a practice day. Wednesday was a regular game day.

Thursday was a practice day, although centers Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Sutter were given "maintenance days" and did not skate. Then, the team flew to Winnipeg for the game tonight.

Saturday there is a practice scheduled in Buffalo, where the Penguins will play a Sunday afternoon game.

And that's a lighter week than some that have four games and don't include two days in a row without a game.

"You've just got to make sure you take care of yourself," winger Tyler Kennedy said, adding that the team still has its full slate of meetings and video sessions.

Some teams seem to be holding a lot of optional practices or, in particular, morning skates.

"I think you have to," Sutter said.

"It's a lot of games. I think rest is important, and everyone can do what they think is right for their body. We still go through a lot of [preparation] on game days.

"That's all pretty straightforward. Just not as much time for practicing."

Bylsma's anniversary

Today marks four years since Bylsma was named Penguins coach.

He previously coach the team's American Hockey League club, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Bylsma, 42, is 174-86-25 in his only NHL head coaching job. He led the team to the Stanley Cup four months after taking over and won the Jack Adams Award as the league's best coach for 2010-11.

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First Published February 15, 2013 12:00 AM


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