If You ask me, Matt Cooke’s lengthy rap sheet actually saved him from being suspended for the play in Pittsburgh on Wednesday against the Senators, when his left skate blade sliced through Erik Karlsson’s Achilles tendon on an attempted stick-and-pin gone terribly wrong.

For the NHL Department of Safety seems to have bent itself backward to an almost anatomically impossible degree in order not to appear biased against Cooke for prior bad acts while excusing this one as just plain bad luck.

The conversation in hockey’s public square was dominated by references to Cooke’s previous malfeasances, chief among them the vicious blow to the head that effectively ended Marc Savard’s career — “Inadmissible, Your Honor!” — for which he avoided punishment.

This isn’t an indictment of Cooke for intent to injure Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner. But since when is intent the sole measure of whether a player should be disciplined for a reckless act? There is a difference in our criminal justice system, after all, between premeditated murder and manslaughter.

Cooke swooped in on Karlsson on the boards in a thoroughly reckless manner while attempting to gain leverage. It’s the way the Pittsburgh winger generally attacks on a stick-and-pin, with one knee in a more overtly dangerous position than one generally sees on such generally routine plays.