DETROIT (AP) - Penguins forward Matt Cooke was suspended for the remainder of the regular season and first round of the playoffs by the NHL for elbowing Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers in the head.
Pittsburgh has 10 games to play, including Monday night's game against the Detroit Red Wings, in the regular season so the suspension will be a minimum of 14 matches. He will also lose $219,512.20 in salary.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero said in a statement the suspension was "warranted because that's exactly the kind of hit we're trying to get out of the game.
"Head shots have no place in hockey. We've told Matt in no uncertain terms that this kind of action on the ice is unacceptable and cannot happen. Head shots must be dealt with severely, and the Pittsburgh Penguins support the NHL in sending this very strong message."
The ruling followed a meeting between Cooke and NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell at the league office in Toronto.
"Mr. Cooke, a repeat offender, directly and unnecessarily targeted the head of an opponent who was in an unsuspecting and vulnerable position," Campbell said in a statement released by the league. "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."
It's Cooke's fifth suspension and the fourth since joining the Penguins as a free agent in 2008.
He was banned four games last month for hitting Blue Jackets defensman Fedor Tyutin from behind.
In 67 games this season, Cooke has 30 points (12-18) and 129 penalty minutes. He ranked sixth on the team with 37 points, entering Monday night's game.
The suspension is another setback for a team that has had to play without superstar captain Sidney Crosby since Jan. 5 because of a concussion. Crosby is skating, but there isn't a timetable for his return to the lineup.
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