Matt Cooke’s statement to the media about his suspension.
That’s about all I have to say at this point. There isn’t a whole lot to learn from Cooke’s statement, vis-a-vis the suspension, but there is a lot to learn about how Cooke views himself. And it’s a little sad, to be honest, because I don’t think that anyone in the world thinks that Matt Cooke is a “changed player,” even Matt Cooke, but the way this statement reads is that he’s begging us to still believe him. It also sounds like he’s begging himself to still believe it.
Look, we know he “didn’t mean to” hit Tyson Barrie with his knee, and I will grant that this hit was not as egregious as some of his pre-“changed man” transgressions (see Savard, Marc) but he’s missing the point. It’s not that Cooke is necessarily a “dirty” player anymore (and feel free to debate me on this), but he certainly isn’t a “careful” player. Now, I know it is a little odd to throw a word around like careful when you are talking about a man whose job it is to essentially be a human cannonball with a weapon in his hand, but hear me out.
I look at this hit somewhat the same way I see the incident with Erik Karlsson last year, and if you are forgetting what I mean, here’s a video reminder:
Karlsson had his achilles’ sliced on the play and missed the rest of the regular season. Cooke, controversially, managed to avoid being suspended for the play, and you can imagine that if he had, he may never have received another NHL contract (and the Wild would have signed Raffi Torres instead, as long as were playing with alternate universes here).
I don’t believe that Cooke tried to stomp on Karlsson, just as I don’t believe he actually wanted to knee Tyson Barrie, but the problem now is that Cooke, while the intent is gone, the concern for where he places his more dangerous body parts remains. With Karlsson, it was the razor-blades he wears on his feet. With Barrie, it was the blunt object he possesses between his feet and his waist.
There are three stages of physical hockey player, it seems. First is “player with and edge,” one who hits everything that moves, but generally does so without endangering careers. Next would be a “dirty player,” one who hits everything that moves, with little regard for how he does it. Beyond that would be full-on “goon,” one who hits everything that moves, with clear intent to injure his targets.
I honestly believe that very few actual “goons” exist anymore, but Matt Cooke used to be one of them until changing his ways two years ago (blah blah blah). The problem is, when you move from “goon” to “dirty player,” and you hit someone like he hit Tyson Barrie, your goon past will be drudged up. Bryan Bickell, who is certainly a “player with an edge” and hit Vladimir Sobotka of the Blues in a similar fashion and did not get suspended, got the opposite treatment.
I’m not telling you anything you probably, at least innately, didn’t already know, but my point is that I’m not sure Matt Cooke knows this. Matt, you can be sorry for the incident with Tyson Barrie, as you mention in your statement, and I want to believe you that you are, but stop trying to tells us that you’ve changed. You haven’t. And you can’t. If you need to convince yourself that you have just to keep playing hockey, then retirement may be the best option for you.
Ok. My quotation mark and shift keys are both tired and tapping out after that. Let’s move on to something else.
We have our first “scorers don’t be scorin'” (tradmark) article of the playoffs.
Amazingly, Dany Heatley was again snubbed for the list of Selke finalists. Total BS.
Quebecois Referee-Gate! I can finally cross that off the list of sentences I’ve always wanted to type. Next up: “Gary Busey announces presidential candidacy while riding a minotaur.” C’mon, Gary, don’t let me down.
Forbes gives you the financial take. We get it, no one cares about the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Again with Forbes. Here to tell you that more people are watching the NBA playoffs. NHL fans continue not to care.
This Pittsburgh-Columbus series is amazing.
Darcy Kuemper-fever has hit his hometown of Saskatoon in the creepiest way imaginable.