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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Daisuke Matsuzaka picks up save as Mets closer 04.25.14 at 7:17 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Pirates at Cardinals, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL playoffs: Rangers at Flyers, 7 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Blackhawks at Blues, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Stars at Ducks, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA playoffs: Raptors at Nets, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
NBA playoffs: Bulls at Wizards, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Rockets at Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)


Red Sox castoff Daisuke Matsuzaka in the past year has gone from Mets starter to minor leaguer to reliever to — much to his surprise Thursday — Mets closer.

“I wasn’t told beforehand,” Matsuzaka said after pitching scoreless ninth inning to complete the Mets’ 4-1 victory over the Cardinals for his first MLB save in his fourth career relief appearance. “I assumed if the score didn’t change that [usual closer Kyle] Farnsworth would be going out there. I was ready to go in the eighth if I was needed, and once the eighth ended [bullpen coach Rickey Bones] just told me just to be ready just in case.”

Manager Terry Collins said Farnsworth remains his closer, but he wanted to see what Matsuzaka could do.

“We have to realize there are going to be nights that someone else is going to close besides Farnsworth,” Collins said. “That’s why I wanted to use Dice. ‘€¦ We might need somebody at the end of the game. Today I said I would try Dice.”

Matsuzaka sounded open to helping out however he can.

“I am not trying to get saves, it is not exactly what I want, but as a pitcher I think I want to be that pitcher that the team goes to when we are leading in a tight game, or leading by one run, and we definitely need to get out of the game'” he said.

— Suspended Wild forward Matt Cooke apologized for his hit to the knee of Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie, while insisting he’s no longer the same player who racked up suspensions for cheap shots during his time with the Penguins.

“First and foremost, I want to say that I’m disappointed and sorry that Tyson Barrie can’t play for the Colorado Avalanche [Thursday]. I wish that he could,” Cooke said in a brief press conference before his team evened the series with a 2-1 win in Game 4. “Unfortunately, it was not my intent to collide with him knee on knee. I think it was my intent to finish my check. Playoffs are a hard, physical time, and it’s my job to be physical. I led my team in hits all three games, and it’s an intense time. I’ve led my team this year in hits and in this series.”

With this latest punishment, Cooke has been suspended six times for 34 games, but this is his first in three years.

“I think differently about the game. The stats that I’ve collected over those three seasons prove that I’m a changed player, and the plays that I make and the plays that I don’t make prove that point as well,” said Cooke, who did not answer any questions. “At the end of the day, this situation was not my intent.”

Avs coach Patrick Roy had little to say about Cooke, except that he was “very confident that league would make the right decision” about suspending him.

Wild coach Mike Yeo likewise did not want to allow the suspension to be any more of a distraction.

“We always definitely respect and accept what the decision is from the league, and with that it’s just real important that we put it all behind us,” he said.

— Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar said he was replaced on the team’s preseason TV broadcasts because of his slurred speech that he blames on multiple concussions during his playing days.

“This is very unfortunate, as I believe my football acumen and ability to describe what is happening on the field has been well received by Cleveland Browns fans,” he said in a statement.

WKYC-TV denied that Kosar was replaced for the reasons he claims, and the station added that it has spoken to him about a new role.

“Nowhere in our discussions with Bernie or the Browns has anything ever been said about his speech impairment due to concussions,” station president and general manager Brooke Spectorsky said. “That has simply nothing to do with our decision. The Browns are rebuilding their team, and in reviewing our programming we’ve decided to rebuild as well.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 25, 1950, the Celtics became the first NBA team to draft a black player when they selected which Duquesne star in the second round?

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Read More: Bernie Kosar, Daisuke Matsuzaka, matt cooke,
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Avs’ Erik Johnson says ‘no place in the game’ for Wild’s Matt Cooke, who gets 7-game suspension 04.24.14 at 6:56 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Reds at Pirates, 12:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Diamondbacks at Cubs, 2 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Orioles at Blue Jays, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL playoffs: Bruins at Red Wings, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Avalanche at Wild, 9:30 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Sharks at Kings, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA playoffs: Pacers at Hawks, 7 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA playoffs: Thunder at Grizzlies, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Clippers at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Soccer: UEFA Europa, Benfica vs. Juventus, 3 p.m. (FS1)


— Wild forward Matt Cooke is back in a familiar spot: on the sideline serving a suspension. Cooke was banned seven games by the league for his knee-on-knee hit on Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game 3 of their series — the second-longest kneeing suspension in league history. Barrie suffered a sprained MCL and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

This is Cooke’s sixth suspension, adding up to 34 games. He had gone three years since his last major transgression, when he played for the Penguins.

Cooke, 35, can appeal the suspension to commissioner Gary Bettman.

“I think everyone is pretty informed on what he does out there and what he’s done in the past, and I think that speaks for itself,” Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson said Wednesday before the suspension was announced. “There’s no place for that in the game. Look at the guy who he hit: one of our top ‘D.’ He’s going to be out for the foreseeable future.”

Added Johnson: “I don’t even know if there’s a place for him in this game. It’s disgusting what he’s done to guys’ careers.”

— The Knicks are looking for a new coach after firing Mike Woodson, but president Phil Jackson made it clear he won’t be returning to the bench.

Jeanie Buss was here with the Board of Governors last week and stayed through the weekend, and tried to encourage me to coach the team. And if there’s anyone that can encourage me to do anything, it’s Jeanie Buss. But I was able to withstand her arguments the whole time,” Jackson said during a Wednesday press conference at the Knicks’ training center in Greenburgh, N.Y.

Added Jackson: “Right now I know physically what I can do. That’s something that I don’t think physically I can do.”

Jackson said he has some names in mind, and he did nothing to discourage rumors that TNT analyst Steve Kerr is the leading candidate.

“I know philosophically we have a strong connection. Whether he’s able to take a job like this, I don’t know,” Jackson said. “I will get in a conversation with him later on this month and talk to him about it and see where he’s at as far as his desire to coach.”

— Pacers guard Lance Stephenson admitted that he and teammate Evan Turner had a “little scuffle” prior to Game 1 of Indiana’s series vs. the Hawks, although he denied a report that punches were thrown.

Two large scratches were evident on Turner’s neck during the game, which the favored Pacers lost.

“We got in a little scuffle, but it was just practice related,” Stephenson said. “No blows, just hard playing and getting ready for the playoffs. I mean, I’ve got no problem with him.”

Meanwhile, coach Frank Vogel, who had a long conversation after Wednesday’s practice with team president Larry Bird, appeared unconcerned about a report that he is “coaching for his job” after the team’s late-season struggles.

“It’s the NBA, we’re all coaching for our jobs,” Vogel said. “All I know is that I’ve got incredible support from Larry and we’re trying to win games.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 24, 1983, which player scored 1:52 into overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Sabres in Game 7 of their Adams Division finals series at Boston Garden?

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Read More: Evan Turner, Frank Vogel, Lance Stephenson, matt cooke
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Paul Pierce calls Nets ‘soft’ after late collapse vs. Raptors 04.23.14 at 8:01 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Yankees at Red Sox, 7 p.m. (NESN, ESPN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Diamondbacks at Cubs, 2 p.m. (WGN, MLB Network)
NHL playoffs: Penguins at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Ducks at Stars, 8 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Blues at Blackhawks, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA playoffs: Bobcats at Heat, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Mavericks at Spurs, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA playoffs: Trail Blazers at Rockets, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Bayern Munich at Real Madrid, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: CONCACAF Champions, Cruz Azul at Toluca, 8 p.m. (FS1)


— It’s not quite Larry Bird calling out his Celtics teammates in the 1984 NBA finals against the Lakers, but Paul Pierce appears to be doing his best to light a fire under his Nets, calling Brooklyn a “soft team” after Tuesday’s Game 2 loss to the Raptors in Toronto.

The Nets squandered a 69-64 lead early in the fourth quarter and allowed the Raptors to score 36 fourth-quarter points on 12-of-16 shooting and tie the series with a 100-95 decision. Brooklyn was out rebounded 52-30 in the game.

Pierce, who scored nine straight points in the final three minutes of Game 1 as the Nets grabbed a 94-87 victory, missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer from the corner with 24 seconds remaining Tuesday. He made just 2-of-11 shots and scored seven points.

But after the game the former Celtic was more concerned about his team’s lack of defensive teamwork and aggressiveness in the paint.

“We gave them everything they wanted — 50 points in the paint, and [19] offensive rebounds,” Pierce said. “We were a soft team tonight.”

Teammate Kevin Garnett said he expects the Brooklyn fans to be rowdy for Friday’s Game 3, especially after Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri yelled “[Expletive] Brooklyn]” to a group of Toronto fans outside the arena prior to Game 1 (for which Ujiri was fined $25,000 by the league).

Said Garnett: “It’s going to be a rowdy environment, like it should be. I don’t know if you can say ‘F’ Brooklyn and then come into Brooklyn, so we’re about to see what it’s like.”

— Wild forward Matt Cooke has a hearing Wednesday in New York with the NHL‘s department of player safety to explain himself for his knee-on-knee hit Monday that injured Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie.

Cooke, well known for his bad behavior during his days with the Penguins, has stayed out of trouble the past three seasons after multiple suspensions, but this latest incident appears likely to cost him. The Avs say Barrie, who left the game immediately after the hit, suffered a sprained MCL and will be out 4-6 weeks.

“Does he really need to do those nasty, dirty hits?” said Avalanche forward Max Talbot, who played with Cooke in Pittsburgh. “He’s been in that mode since Game 1. He has been chippy with his stick, going in, slashing guys and, you know, being dirty.”

— Longtime NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager said he is “honored” by the outpouring of support he has received since he started chemotherapy as part of his battle with leukemia. On Sunday, TNT broadcasters and analysts paid tribute to Sager by wearing flashy suits (Sager’s trademark), and famously curt Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said in an interview with Sager’s son that he wanted Sager back and would be nice to him.

“It was just fabulous, an uplifting, tremendous thing for me,” Sager told Sports Illustrated. “Pop saying he wanted me back and then promising to be nice? I was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s unbelievable, what an honor.’ But then I started thinking about it: If I come back and Pop starts being nice to me, it just wouldn’t be right. I want him to go Serbian [a reference to Popovich’s heritage] on me.”

Sager said he is watching the NBA playoffs on TV and “it is therapeutic.”

“Getting my first chemo was very emotional,” Sager said. “I’m thinking, What is this going to be like, how will it feel, what effects will it have on my body — a total unknown. I have never been sick a day in my life. All of sudden they are administering the first chemo and [ESPN/ABC play-by-play announcer] Mike Breen gets on the air and says, ‘Hey, we just want to say we miss Craig Sager.’ That happened right as the first chemo came. I was like, Wow, I feel better now from the love and support of the airwaves!”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 23, 1969, Ted Williams returned to Fenway Park as the manager of which team?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It hasn’t been easy, let’s not kid ourselves. We’ve been fortunate enough in the last two games to get leads. We’re not going to talk about a comfortable situation because until you win that fourth game, it never is.” — Bruins coach Claude Julien, after the Bruins’ 3-0 victory Tuesday gave them a 2-1 series lead over the Red Wings

STAT OF THE DAY: 35 — Strikeouts this season for Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka — who fanned seven Red Sox in New York’s 9-3 win Tuesday — the most through a pitcher’s first four starts in team history

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Angels slugger Albert Pujols hits his 500th home run in Tuesday’s game against the Nationals.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Washington Senators (who moved to Texas after the 1971 season to become the Rangers)

SOOTHING SOUNDS: The late Dale Houston, half of the group Dale & Grace, was born on this day in 1940.

Read More: Craig Sager, kevin garnett, matt cooke, Paul Pierce
Senators’ Erik Karlsson suffers Achilles laceration from skate of Penguins’ Matt Cooke 02.14.13 at 9:00 am ET
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Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson suffered a laceration to his left Achilles tendon that will require surgery and likely knock him out for the rest of the season. Karlsson, the 2012 Norris Trophy winner, was injured when Penguins forward Matt Cooke‘s skate caught his heel during a scrum on the boards late in the second period Wednesday night’s game in Pittsburgh.

Cooke, who has been suspended numerous times for illegal hits but vowed to change his ways more than a year ago, was not penalized on the play.

“Him and I were engaged and he went down screaming,” Cooke said. “I didn’t even know what happened. It’s a complete accident and obviously I feel terrible about it. It has happened a few times over the past couple of years and it’s scary.”

Senators general manager Bryan Murray apparently isn’t buying Cooke’s explanation.

“It’s Matt Cooke. What else should I say?” Murray said. “Watch the replay.”

The incident occurred seconds after the puck hit the protective netting behind the goal, but the officials missed it and let the play continue.

“We all know who’s involved in it,” Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. “That’s just the way it is. The injury to Erik was unfortunate and it happens on a nothing play that could’ve potentially been whistled down.”

Senators forward Chris Neil went after Cooke late in the third period, and both players received game-ending misconduct penalties. The Penguins went on to take a 4-2 victory, with Cooke assisting on the game-winning goal by James Neal early in the third.

Read More: Bryan Murray, Erik Karlsson, matt cooke,
Video: Penguins’ Matt Cooke delivers another hit to head 03.21.11 at 6:42 am ET
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Penguins forward Matt Cooke was given a five-minute major penalty and ejected from Sunday’s game for his elbow to the head of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

Cooke, who has been suspended three times in the past three seasons for illegal hits, likely faces another suspension this week after sticking out his arm to deck a defenseless McDonagh at center ice near the boards.

“I don’t think you can talk about eliminating head shots from the game, as we have as an organization, and not expect [Cooke’s hit] to be examined,” Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. “It’s what looks to be a contact right to the head on the play, so the league will look at that and treat it as such.”

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Suspended Penguin Matt Cooke puts some blame on victim 02.11.11 at 11:39 am ET
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Penguins forward Matt Cooke met the media Thursday for the first time since being suspended four games for his hit on Columbus’ Fedor Tyutin. Cooke said he altered his game to avoid hits to the head like the one he delivered to Bruins center Marc Savard last season, but his hit on Tyutin came because Tyutin put himself in jeopardy.

“I’m not going to leave myself in a vulnerable position two feet from the boards when I know someone’s coming,” Cooke said.

As for the ruling, Cooke said: “It’s the league’s decision. They assess every hit and every play. That’s their ruling.” When asked if his reputation affected his suspension, he said: “No comment.”

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Penguins’ Matt Cooke reportedly gets four-game suspension 02.09.11 at 1:15 pm ET
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Penguins forward Matt Cooke was suspended four games by the league for his hit from behind on Fedor Tyutin on Tuesday night (video below), according to multiple reports. Cooke left his feet to slam Tyutin into the boards while the Blue Jackets defenseman played the puck. Cooke received a charging penalty on the play.

Two days earlier, Cooke took out Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, sticking out his knee and tripping the Capitals star (video below). Cooke received a penalty and earned the ire of the Capitals.

“It’s Matt Cooke, OK. Need we say more?” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It’s not like it’s his first rodeo. He’s done it to everybody and then he goes to the ref and says, ‘What did I do?’ He knows darn well what he did. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s good at it and he knows how to do it, he knows how to pick this stuff.

“We as a league still buy into this that it was an accidental thing.”

Here’s the hit on Tyutin:

Here’s the hit on Ovechkin:

Read More: Alex Ovechkin, Fedor Tyutin, matt cooke, Rumor Mill
Penguins’ Sidney Crosby expected to miss at least a week 01.07.11 at 9:32 am ET
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Penguins star Sidney Crosby is expected to miss at least one week due to effects from a concussion. Crosby, who missed Thursday night’s shootout loss to the Canadiens in Montreal, was injured in Wednesday’s victory over the Lightning, four days after he received a blistering hit in Saturday’s Winter Classic vs. the Capitals.

The Penguins also were without forward Matt Cooke on Thursday, as the winger returned to Pittsburgh for personal reasons.

Read More: matt cooke, Rumor Mill, Sidney Crosby,
Top stories of 2010, No. 8: The Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath 12.24.10 at 8:13 am ET
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For the final 10 days of 2010, will count down the top 10 stories of the year. In what was a memorable 12 months for all four of Boston’s major professional teams, there was a plethora of compelling storylines. Our third entry in the countdown is No. 8: The Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath.

Also, make sure to cast your vote in’s poll for the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year.

The Bruins carried themselves through a good portion of the 2009-10 season undaunted, just waiting to take on their next opponent. In Bill Belichick terms: They were playing their season one game at a time.

The team was riding a season on the back of young netminder Tuukka Rask, who had the B’€™s in not just the playoff hunt, but in good postseason standing with just several months remaining on the regular-season schedule.

But on March 7, the Bruins made a trip to Pittsburgh that will live in Boston sports infamy.

The Penguins were a good team ‘€” a team that boasted one of the biggest names in modern-day hockey in Sidney Crosby. Pittsburgh jumped out to a 2-1 lead late in the third period when Bruins center Marc Savard was set up for a quick wrist shot in between the faceoff circles in the Penguins’€™ zone. After Savard got the shot away, Penguins left wing Matt Cooke skated in on Savard and put a shoulder into his blind side, catching the side of Savard’€™s head and neck. The shot came from almost behind the Bruins center, and after the puck had already been released.

Savard hit the ice hard and didn’€™t move for minutes, except to open and close his hand. Meanwhile, Bruins players skated at Cooke, seeking some form of redemption for the swipe. But when referees held up any extra physicality, no further push was made by either team to reconcile what had happened. The game ended in a 2-1 Penguins victory, but the Bruins had lost much more than just the game itself.

For weeks, analysts and even teammates discussed the hit and whether or not it was legal, or should have drawn a suspension, while Savard suffered the effects of a major concussion. Ultimately, league disciplinarian Colin Campbell ruled that the hit on Savard was not worthy of a fine or suspension, that Cooke’€™s hit was technically legal (it was not penalized by the on-ice officials).

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Read More: Boston Bruins, marc savard, matt cooke,
The villains of Bruins history 03.12.10 at 5:06 pm ET
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It only took one play for Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke to join the ranks of Bruins villains.

The hit that knocked out the Marc Savard, likely ending his season according to Boston GM Peter Chiarelli, has caused quite a stir in Boston. Shawn Thornton warned that “no one should push [the Bruins] around” despite the fact that the team did not respond to Cooke’s vicious hit. Mike Milbury said that he believes the Bruins are too soft. Savard’s mother even got in on the act, saying that she would have gone after Cooke herself after the hit. About the only person not up in arms over the hit is NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell.

Cooke will now forever join the list of notorious individuals in the minds of Boston fans. Here are some of the more famous villains in Bruins history.

Chris Nilan

Nilan grew up in Massachusetts idolizing Bruins great Bobby Orr and went to school at Northeastern. He eventually ended his career playing two of his last three seasons with the Bruins like he had dreamed, but it was a bizarre turn given his early career with the Montreal Canadiens.

Nilan was the Canadiens’ resident tough guy in the ’80s, leading the NHL in penalty minutes multiple times and earning the nickname of “Knuckles” due to his fighting habits. Naturally, he became a villain in the eyes of Bruins fans. Most famously, Nilan delivered a cheap shot to an unsuspecting Paul Boutileer, causing a bench-clearing brawl to ensue at Boston Garden.

You’ll notice in that video that then-Bruins coach Terry O’Reilly joins in on the brawl as well, getting into it with Mike McPhee. Interestingly enough, O’Reilly had his own history with Nilan.

Claude Lemieux

Lemieux was one of the most vilified hockey goons in NHL history. He seemed to get into disagreements with every team, particularly the Detroit Red Wings, most notably when he lit up Kris Draper in 1996 as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. Even though Lemieux won four Stanley Cup titles over the course of his career, he was more known as one of the most infamous instigators in the NHL during his tenure. And the Bruins were amongst the teams that did not take kindly to him, particularly Cam Neely, who called Lemieux a “gutless puke.”

Of course, Lemieux ended up in his patented “turtle” position when Neely went after him. He was always more of an instigator than an actual fighter.

Scott Walker

Before there was Matt Cooke, there was Scott Walker. The Bruins came into the Eastern Conference semifinals last year as the top seed, facing off against the Carolina Hurricanes after dominating the rival Canadiens in a four-game sweep in the first round. But the Hurricanes took a surprising 3-1 lead in the series, forcing the Bruins into must-win mode in Game 5.

And though the Bruins pulled it out, Walker’s sucker punch of Aaron Ward was the bigger story.

Ward called it “a joke” and Bruins fans were upset that Colin Campbell did not discipline Walker for the punch, which many felt was a cheap shot because Ward still had his gloves on and wasn’t ready to fight. To add insult to the injury, it was Walker who scored the decisive goal in overtime in Game 7 that knocked the Bruins out of the playoffs.

Ulf Samuelsson

It is a hit that lives in infamy for Bruins fans ‘€” one that contributed to the demise of Hall of Famer Cam Neely’s hockey career and led to the vilification of Samuelsson in the minds of Boston fans on a level previously held for the likes of Bill Laimbeer. Neely certainly had his own thoughts on his rival, calling into question the way Samuelsson played ‘€” a style similar to that of Lemieux, as Samuelsson, too, was no fighter. As a tough-guy himself, Neely took exception to Samuelsson’s on-ice style and his penchant for knee-on-knee hits, or knee-on-thigh in the case of Neely.

Samuelsson was well-known as a dirty player. He ended the career of Pierre Mondou in 1985, when as a member of the Hartford Whalers he delivered a high stick to the Canadiens forward’s eye. Hockey icon Don Cherry also was not a fan of Samuelsson, and said it was a matter of time before someone took him out.

As it turns out, Cherry was right. In 1995 the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ Tie Domi leveled Samuelsson, then with the New York Rangers, with a brutal sucker punch that caused Domi to earn an eight-game suspension.  It was well worth it, considering he probably earned hero-status in Boston, and around the NHL, thanks to this punch.

Interestingly, Samuelsson’s son, Philip Samuelsson, is a freshman defenseman at Boston College who was drafted by the Penguins in the second round of the 2009 draft.

Read More: aaron ward, cam neely, chris nilan, claude lemieux