Jon Cooper's Devon Toews comments more an admission of guilt than finger pointing

Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said "guys know what they're doing" when asked about Devon Toews' cross-check on Nikita Kucherov in Game 3.

Video Transcript

OMAR: I just want to preface by saying, I understand that coaches can't like openly say, like, my player did something stupid, or my player's doing this. I get that. I get that.

But like, John Cooper coming out and saying, my players know what they're doing, like so pretty much implying that like-- like Devon Toews like accidentally on purpose-- or maybe even purposely did what he did Kucherov, it's just-- it's-- it's so stupid. Because you're talking-- you have Nikita Kucherov, a-- a player who is almighty and skilled, top 10 player in-- on-- in the league, has been a top 10 player for a long time, but is a player who loves to straddle the line between OK and very not OK a lot-- a lot. Playoffs, regular season, it doesn't matter.

So like it just-- it just irked me here hearing him say that, the guys know what they're doing. Because like it just seems like it's very picky and choosy as to whether, OK, this is actually the player's fault, maybe the player knows what they're doing, versus, oh, things take place. Things happen.

Case in point, I-- I-- I completely-- yes, I'm going to make this about this, I'm sorry-- I forgot if this was during the regular season or in the playoffs, but there was a moment-- no, this is a playoff, it was one of the games where the Leafs were destroying them. And Mitch Marner and Kucherov collided, and then Kucherov did this like 360 spin thing, and then clipped-- clipped Marner with his skate.

Now, at the time, everyone's like, oh, well, you know, it was just natural, he's just spinning and he collided. Right? But you're watching it, and it's like, OK, sure. But also, I think that also could have been stopped earlier. So it's just like, players do it all the time-- you-- your players do it, as well.

So I don't like the whole like, oh, all the entire arena knows what happened. So the fact you have to ask that question, just like stop it. Stop it. I understand you-- I understand you want to protect your player, that's your star player going down as another player going down, I get it. I get it.

But like, stop it. Stop. The two things that irritate me, as when it comes down to like hockey-- hockey lines or hockey cliches-- that's-- that, in correlation with, well, I'm not trying to hurt anyone. OK. O-flipping-K. They're-- sure, in a contact sport, we're not trying to hurt anyone. OK, OK, sure.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: That could be true. You could try to get out of the way of not trying to hurt people. That could happen.

OMAR: OK, OK, so cool-- so was Corey Perry just like blessing-- blessing-- blessing ankles?


SAM CHANG: That's-- that's the best part, is like, you signed Corey Perry, and that's what you want to complain about? You want to complain about Devon Toews? Like, come on.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Right, like Darcy Kuemper must have stories from this entire series of what it's been like dealing with Corey Perry--


OMAR: Honest, and again, like I get it. I get it. He's the coach. He's a coach, he's going to stand up for-- I get it. Bruce Cassidy had to coach Brad Marchand when Brad Marchand decided to lick people. I understand, I get it. I get it. But like--

JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's kind of wild.

OMAR: But it's just like-- it just-- it's irritating to watch that, because again, knowing that like-- like he has players on his team that on-- that are historically known for doing things accidentally on purpose. So anyway--

JULIAN MCKENZIE: So you've never been-- go ahead, Cuth.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I was just going to say, you're right about it being self-serving. Like, you wouldn't say that if it wasn't a-- a member of the opposition that made that play or that hit. But I almost saw it differently. I thought it was like sort of an admission of guilt, a little bit, because he knows that his players do things like that.

The Lightning are the best dirtiest team on the planet. And I-- I think like, if it was really a truthful moment, it'd be like, yeah, players know how to take a cheap shot when a cheap shot presents itself. And I think that's exactly what it was. And him saying that, good players know what they're doing, is that the right quote? Or if good players know what they're doing out there?

OMAR: Like players know what they're doing, or something like that.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: His players know what they're doing.

OMAR: I feel like I should get the exact quote.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: His players know what they're doing, too, but I think if you got him in a moment that it wasn't like him burying one of his players, he would say, our players know how to do that stuff, as well.

OMAR: Yeah.

SAM CHANG: I will say, I think it's-- it probably irritates, I think Avs fans will love hearing Omar say that, because I think the one thing that Jared Bednar actually does differently than other coaches is when his own players make dirty plays, he doesn't try to pretend like they aren't. And I've seen Avs fans get so mad about it.

Like playoffs last year-- I can't even remember what the quote was, but at one point, he basically acknowledged, like, somebody should have been suspended. And I think there were Avs fans who were angry that he did that rather than making a big stink about the officiating. And it's just-- it's an interesting approach.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Bednar definitely tells it like it is.



SAM CHANG: He doesn't play any games.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: He doesn't necessarily protect at all costs. He just would say what's on his mind, which is pretty respectable.

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