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: Jul 12, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2011 9:47 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

Mike Vick is no longer killing dogs, should we honor him as well ? 

Ugh.  Another moron who goes from thread to thread commenting on Vick's dogfighting and trying to relate it to almost anything.   Please stop - it has nothing to do with how Cooke plays (or played) hockey.  Stop.




Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2011 9:31 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

Cooke's change in character has come too late. Marc Savard has already been forced into early retirement, and the quality of his remaining life will most likely be threatened.


Cooke deserves no Kudos for his change in play.  It's the very least he could do. Commending a guy whose done horrible, reckless damage to the game just because he's no longer doing it is disturbing and unnecessary.


Mike Vick is no longer killing dogs, should we honor him as well ? 




Since: May 5, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2011 9:24 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

and to think that all it took was a player getting a really bad concussion

ugh


strong_safety33
Since: Mar 19, 2010
Posted on: November 17, 2011 9:20 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Aug 14, 2011
Posted on: November 17, 2011 9:00 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

Excellent post redwing. I was one who got so fed up with his dirty play because all it did was hurt the Penguins by putting them down a man and the other times when he got suspended. He earned a reputation for being one of the dirtiest players in the league and I was hoping that the Pens would get rid of him because he was too much trouble. The most frustrating part is that he is a very solid third liner who excels at the PK and agitating the other players. He didn't need to be a cheap shot artist to be a productive player. I was highly skeptical that he would change his ways but so far he has been a changed player. Hopefully that will continue. All it takes is one elbow to the head to erase the positive change that he has made this season. He plays a valuable role on the Pens and as long as he doesn't act like an idiot he's a good player to have on the team.




Since: Nov 20, 2007
Posted on: November 17, 2011 8:58 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

I was actually skeptical that Cooke could change his ways, but so far, I have to say, I was wrong.  It's great news for Matt Cooke, the Penguins and the rest of the league.  With the "New and Improved" Cooke or the "Stepford" Cooke, if you will, we now have a chance to see his scoring skills.  I still find it funny that everyone cried for Cooke to change his game and now that he has, its still not good enough.  The Bruins fans in particular are calling for Matt Cooke's head on a pike.  Savard was known to play with his head down.  Get over it.  Besides, its a contact sport and concussions happen.  Nobody knows this more than Penguins fans.



Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2011 4:02 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

I was the first one to rip Matt Cooke on these boards when he did something stupid, but I have to be fair and say that yes, he has changed the way he plays..... and so far, good for him !!  I hope he can keep it up because if he stops the crap, the guy is a really good hockey player.  He kills penalties as well as anybody in the NHL, scores short handed goals on a semi regular basis and he's a good checker, a tough guy to play against and a guy most teams in the NHL would line up for as long as he stays clean.

The funny thing about Cooke is he wasn't dirty back in his OHL junior days, and played many years in the NHL with very little trouble... suddenly he goes to Pittsburgh and for some unknown reason got very stupid and did ridiculous things.  I know it's still early in the season, but I really hope he can keep it up......  with the unknown long term status of Crosby and Malkin injured on and off the Pens could really use him.... 



Since: Apr 30, 2007
Posted on: November 17, 2011 3:48 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

<span class="Apple-style-span" style="color: #333333; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">Still hoping I see the day Cooke's head is separated from the rest of his body by another player.  After what Cooke did to Savard, (as well as to other players), I have nothing but contempt for this JERK



CryCryCryCryCryCryCry



Since: Jun 18, 2007
Posted on: November 17, 2011 1:46 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

Still hoping I see the day Cooke's head is separated from the rest of his body by another player.  After what Cooke did to Savard, (as well as to other players), I have nothing but contempt for this JERK.



Since: Nov 21, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2011 3:13 am
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

I would love to hear and see some of crap he has probably been taking from other players so far this year.  Crap which he 100 percent deserves.  It will be interesting to see if he can actually keep it up or going to just snap one of these days.


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