Blog Entry

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:07 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 10:21 pm
 
cooke1By: Adam Gretz

Throughout his career Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke has usually been used as an example of what not to do on the ice when it comes to physical play. He's been suspended five times, including the final 10 games of the regular season, and all seven of Pittsburgh's playoff games last year, and is perhaps known most for the hit on Boston's Marc Savard that started his still on-going battle with concussions, and also helped spark the NHL's rule changes regarding hits to the head (rule 48).

Following his most recent suspension, one that hurt the Penguins in their opening round playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Cooke vowed to change his ways and clean up the way he plays hockey. His claim was greeted -- and rightfully so -- with a sense of, show us, don't tell us, and actions speak louder than words.

A month-and-a-half into the season and he is now actually being used as a positive example of what to do on the ice. At least in the eyes of the Penguins. 

In an article penned by the Canadian Press on Wednesday, Penguins general manager Ray Shero cited Cooke's early season play as an example the NHL can use for what Brendan Shanahan is trying to accomplish with player safety.

From Shero, via the CP:
"For Brendan Shanahan and player safety, here's a guy that they can show on some highlights and the videos, where he's not taking the hit or he is pulling up (in dangerous situations)," said Shero. "He's still got a ways to go. But in the first portion of the season here and exhibition as well, he has changed the way he's played and he's still a really good effective player for us in his role.

"That's good news for us and it's good news for Brendan Shanahan in terms of what he's trying to do."
Through 18 games this season Cooke has not done anything remotely dirty, and has been sent to the penalty box just two times -- once for interference and once for unsportsmanlike conduct for diving -- for a grand total of four penalty minutes. Over the past four seasons through the same number of games he registered 23, 22, 25 and 24 penalty minutes.  Along with that, he also has a positive differential in the number of penalties he's drawn compared to the number of penalties he's taken for the first time in four years.

(Penalty numbers via BehindTheNet)

Matt Cooke Penalties Drawn vs. Penalties Taken: Past Four Years
Year Penalties Taken per 60 Min. Penalties Drawn per 60 Min. Difference
2011-12 (18 Games) 0.3 1.4 +1.1
2010-11 1.8 1.2 -0.6
2009-10 1.4 1.1 -0.3
2008-09 1.6 1.3 -0.3
2007-08 1.4 1.2 -0.2

This is definitely a positive development and a good start for the Penguins, as well as Cooke, because he's always been a valuable player when he isn't sidelined with a suspension or sitting in the penalty box following an ill-timed penalty (he can score, and he's one of the top penalty killers on the best penalty killing team in the league).

But it's going to take a lot more than 18 games for fans -- if not opposing players as well -- around the NHL to believe that he really has turned the page and become a different player.

Photo: Getty Images

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Comments

Since: Nov 21, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 3:57 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

You can look through any post I have ever made about Matt Cooke and see i'm clearly not a fan of his.  I feel he has alot of work to do to get back to the reputation that most hockey players get automaticly when they join the league. 

All of that being said.  I am so sick of reading all the comments from Savard supporters saying Cooke shouldn't be able to play if Savard can't.  Was the hit dirty?  You bet.  It was within the rules of the game at the time it took place, but if it would of took place 20 years ago Cooke would of been leaving the ice on a stretcher right behind Savard. 

What Matt Cooke didn't do was tell Boston to rush Savard back onto the ice before he had any buisness being there.  It wasn't Matt Cooke that put him back in the line up during the playoffs when he was still having symptoms so they could make a run at the cup.  It wasn't Matt Cooke that tagged him in the playoffs and knocked him back out of the lineup.  It wasn't Matt Cooke who gave Savard the green light to play the season after that.  After he had allready sat out half the season.  A season in which anyone could of told you he should of sat out from start to finish, and it wasn't Matt Cooke who knocked him out after new years in what will probably be Savards last game.  What about Savard himself?  The guy has kids.  What is he thinking going out and risking even more brain trauma when he has freakin kids.

You want to be angry at Matt Cooke over the Savard incident?  Have at it.  I'm with you.  It may have been legal but it was trashy.  Savard was really coming into his own as a hockey player and was really enjoyable to watch on the ice.  To put 100 percent of the blame on Cooke is just stupid though.  Matt Cooke played a part in ending Savards career.  You can't dispute that it's fact.  Problem is a lot of people dropped the ball on the Savard situation.  A large number of people who all made poor choices regarding his health all played a major role in ending his career.  Which is a real shame because he was on his way to being a star.

Like I said at start.  I'm no fan of Matt Cooke.  I am a fan of personal responsibility.





Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: November 18, 2011 3:37 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

correcting a wrong and turning it into a right is honorable. 
Absolutely.  Otherwise, why even suspend players for flagrant boarding or a head shot.... no lets just ban them from the league, they are all goons, right?

20 games does not a history make, he will have to play this way for the next 3-4 years, but it has been done before.  Stan Makita was a goon, his daughter didn't like it, he changed his game - eventually winning the Lady Bing award.  Somehow I think that Cooke can (not will) but can repeat that.

I understand disliking a player, but not allowing for reform is a little petty isn't it?



Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:29 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

I have read through these comments. Most of you people who hate Cooke would love him on your team. The Savard hit was dirty and uncalled for, but we all want those intense players on our teams.


 



Personally, I honestly wouldn't want Cooke (or, for that matter, Sean Avery) on my team. But your last statement is so true. To hockey fans, one person's goon is another's hero. heh heh




Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:20 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

so every player that has given a player an injury should also be banned from the league?


To me, it depends on the situation. Hockey is inherrently a violent and physical sport and people get hurt in the normal course of a game. However, if a hit is determined to be dirty, illegal and there seems there was intent to injure, then why not tell the player who broke the rules and put another human being in unnecessary danger that he'll have to sit at least until the player he hurt is able to return? That seems pretty reasonable and fair to me.

And yeah, I'm another Bruins fan, but I don't feel this way just because it was one of our guys who got the short end of the deal. When Marty McSorley was playing for the Bruins and knocked Donald Brashear over the head with his stick, I was very concerned for Brashear and never wanted to see McSorley on the ice again.

If you intentionally hurt someone, of course you deserve to sit for at least as long as that player is out. It's about time we start remembering that hockey players are human beings with families and the league should be trying to protect them as best as possible.



Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:10 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

I still can't stand the bastard, but for the sake of his team and the other players on the ice, I'm glad to read he's cleaning up his act. I'll always hold a grudge against him, though. The hit on Savard and the repercussions Savard has had to deal with are just unforgivable.



Since: Dec 10, 2007
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:09 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

It's great he's being a man and not a child but is Marc Savard playing? Cooke should be banned from the league.

so every player that has given a player an injury should also be banned from the league?  

bruins fans annoy the hell out of me.  



Since: Dec 7, 2008
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:04 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

redwing: Maybe Mario spoke to Cooke and told him he will be waived if he does something again. We don't know that for sure but we don't know he didn't do it either. So maybe he has already backed up his statements by making his players change? Clearly someone has gotten through to Cooke so far and it very easily could have been Mario. So until Cooke does something stupid, let's settle down on the "Mario has to back up his words or he is a punk" type of statements. For all we know he already has and/or will in the future.

Mario knows how to get his message out. He goes to extremes to make headlines. If one of the greatest players of all time talks about quiting the NHL, it is going to get noticed by everyone. If he came out and said we need to cut down on headshots, nobody would listen. So he went to the extreme so people would pay attention. I'm sure he doesn't care if some fans call him a hypocrite or anything like that.

Would he actually quit the NHL? I don't know, but I have my doubts. He said he was going to move the team to KC, too. But again, that could have just been making headlines to get a new arena. 




Since: Dec 7, 2008
Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:48 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

It's great he's being a man and not a child but is Marc Savard playing? Cooke should be banned from the league. 

Yeah you're right!!!! We can't have players going around playing within the rules!!!!!

And yes I know, not everything Cooke has done is within the rules, but the Savard hit was at the time. You Bruin fans can be upset about it if you want, but calling for Cooke to be banned from the NHL for something that was not an illegal hit is ridiculous. BTW, should Lucic be banned because he gave Miller a concussion? Let's not be hypocritical. You can't have it both ways.




Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

You've clearly never watched Cooke play and just see all the dirty hits on youtube. If the Penguins tried to send him to the AHL, another team would claim him off waivers in a heartbeat. He would never make it the AHL. 


I agree, somebody would pick him up... and fast too.  He only makes 2 million this year and 1.25 million next season, with a cap hit of 1.8 million dollars.  That's not a lot of money or a big cap hit for a guy that does the things Cooke does when he's at his best....

BUT.... if he screws up again and hurts somebody or even tries to hurt somebody, Mario Lemiex HAS TO WAIVE HIM.... well, maybe he doesn't HAVE TO but if he doesn't, then he better shut his mouth forever after.  

Lemieux threatened to quit on the game that gave him everything he has.... he threatened to quit on the city that made him a God and on the rest of his Pittsburgh players that play the game the way it's supposed to be played.  Why did he threaten to quit?  Because he said the NHL was getting out of hand with the dirty play and the game was being disrespected.   If Cooke screws up again, Lemieux's only move is to waive him..... actions speak louder then words.  He has to back up his statements and the fit he threw, or the next time he speaks nobody will listen.



Since: Nov 18, 2011
Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:35 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

I have read through these comments. Most of you people who hate Cooke would love him on your team. The Savard hit was dirty and uncalled for, but we all want those intense players on our teams.



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