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Wild’s Matt Cooke makes unwritten statement addressing 7-game suspension


Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke spoke publicly for the first time on Thursday afternoon regarding the 7-game suspension he was assessed for his knee-to-knee hit on Tyson Barrie during Monday’s 1-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

His statement read as follows (via Star Tribune):

“First and foremost, I want to say that I’m disappointed and sorry that Tyson Barrie can’t play for the Colorado Avalanche tonight. I wish that he could. Unfortunately, it was not my intent to collide with him knee-on-knee. It was my intent to finish my check. Playoffs are a hard and physical time and it’s my job to be physical. I’ve led my team in hits in all three games and it’s an intense time. I’ve led my team this year in hits and in this series.

“Since March 20, 2011 (the elbow to Ryan McDonagh that resulted in a 17-game suspension), I’ve been a changed player. I’ve approached the game differently, I think differently about the game. That 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 to that point as well. At the end of the day, this situation was not my intent.”

Cooke did not field any questions after reading his statement.

Cooke’s checkered past as an egregious cheap shot artist clearly came back to bite him relating to this incident, its aftermath and subsequent lengthy suspension, although it’s difficult to characterize Cooke’s knee-to-knee hit on Barrie as anything but something that at least rises to the level of a cheap shot.

At the same time, one is left to wonder what the response by the NHL had been if any other player on the Wild roster but him had made the same play. At least in this instance, despite his best efforts to clean up his game — which he has over the past few seasons — Cooke has been unable to escape his past, no matter if one believes the hit on Barrie was intentional or otherwise.

In the end, the NHL laid out its case as to why Cooke’s actions warranted a suspension clearly and concisely.

But the writing essentially was on the wall before the verdict was made.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy expressed his thoughts on the suspension on Thursday morning, saying, “It doesn’t matter the number of games [Cooke received]. It doesn’t replace Tyson Barrie. We want to see Tyson on the ice tonight.”

Wild coach Mike Yeo, meanwhile, said the team accepts the NHL’s decision.

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

Yeo was then asked if Cooke will travel and/or practice with the team as he serves his suspension.

“For me, I’m focused on the game tonight, so to sit here and say that I spent the morning trying to make a plan for Matt Cooke, I haven’t. We’re playing Colorado tonight and I’m focused on the guys that are in the lineup,” he said. “There will be time for some of those decisions.”

(image via @Russostrib)