Matt Cooke has wronged the hockey gods once again, and the price for his transgression is steep. Cooke, along with Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher sat down with league officials today in New York where they learned the fate of Matt Cooke for his knee-on-knee collision with Colorado Avalanche defensemen Tyson Barrie. Barrie would suffer an injury to his left MCL as a result of the hit, which will keep him off the ice for 4-6 weeks. Cooke has been suspended by the league for 7 games and will miss the remainder of the series with the Avalanche.
Matt Cooke has made his bed, and now he must sleep in it. The nightmares therein he can only blame himself for. Coach Yeo certainly didn't command him to go out there and put a knee to somebody, nor did Fletcher secure a private line to the Wild bench to put out a hit on the Avalanche defensemen. Despite the few loud voices out there spewing this sorted drivel (I'm looking at you Dater fanboys), these rumors are simply not true. Do not be so quick to aquit the Wild front office and coaching staff though, they do have a dog in this fight.
GM Chuck Fletcher knew exactly what he was doing when he signed Cooke as a free agent last summer. He knew the history. He's seen the disaster left in Matt Cooke's wake through his 16 year career in the NHL. He knew that although Cooke has been working to correct the copious amounts of asshole attached to his game, the potential for Cooke to slide back into his old shoes was a very real threat. The best indicator of future events is past behavior, and Cooke could only pull the wool over the leagues eyes for so long. We all should have seen this day coming.
The risk has and will always be there with this guy. There is no way to contort yourself around that argument. Cooke could come back and play the right way, he could rack up points and keep his name off the bad side of the score-sheet for the remainder of his life. Yet in Minnesota and around the league, he will no longer garner what little benefit of the doubt he was given. When he first signed here I cannot recall one person I talked to being particularly happy about the signing. Most fans were either of the mind that "as long as he doesn't pull that here, fine" or the "Matt Cooke!?!? Are you f!$%@# kidding me???"
Since Cooke's last dance with the NHL DoPS, when he earned a 10-game +1st round of the playoffs suspension (17 total games) for elbowing New York Rangers defensemen and St. Paul native Ryan McDonagh on March 20, 2011, Cooke had seemingly cleaned up his game and avoided the dirty stuff that made him one of the most loathed players by NHL fans across the continent. You could see it in how he played this year for the Wild. I cannot count how many times I've watched him, waiting for that devil on his shoulder to make himself known again only to see Cooke peel off questionable hits this season.
Cooke, up to Monday nights infraction had been a great asset for the Wild. He has played the tough minutes, he has been a team player and he more importantly has kept his nose clean. With no major penalties and just 2 misconduct calls in the last 3 seasons it seemed as if his dirty days were behind him. He is by no means been a perfect angel in that span, but a far cry from the selfish goonery that has pockmarked his past. He almost had me convinced, almost.
Unfortunately for Avalanche fans, a Matt Cooke suspension will not bring Barrie back from doctors table any sooner. Unfortunately for Wild fans, Cooke who has otherwise had a fine season on the shutdown line will no longer be available. The trade off here obviously hurts the Avalanche far more than it hurts the Wild. Barrie has been a dynamic play-maker for the Avs this year and has stepped up to the plate here in the playoffs.
7 games, in my opinion is perfectly fair. The guy has been a problem and despite the appearance the NHL cares more about your knees than your head after only suspending Brent Seabrook for 3 games for his blow to Blues forward David Backes. I think 7 should be safe enough to settle the more level headed of Avs fans, and not so much to drive Wild fans over the edge. Of course, not a lot of Wild fans are necessarily Cooke fans, but that's irrelevant anyway.
The explanation from the NHL Department of Player Safety.
Sound off Wilderness! Too much? Not enough? Or is this porridge just right?