Tag:Matt Cooke
Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 10:05 am

Daily Skate: Deal or no deal to buy the Blues?

By Brian Stubits

There are 12 teams getting their season under way tonight in the NHL. Two of them will come early in Europe as the Kings-Rangers and Sabres-Ducks battle at 1 ET. Then tonight there are four more games back in North America, including the Rick Nash/Jeff Carter era beginning in Columbus. Scoreboard

DEAL OR NO DEAL? It recently came out from Jeremy Rutherford at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Matthew Hulsizer, the Chicago man who nearly bought the Coyotes, has reached a verbal agreement to purchase the Blues. But Andy Strickland at True Hockey says not so fast, there is a lot of work that needs to be done, but at least things are promising.

EARLY RETURN: Nothing like a small sample size. Yes, the Flyers played solid defense on Thursday in beating the defending champion Bruins in Boston, but Ryan Bright says the plan of GM Paul Holmgren that saw sweeping changes this offseason already looks good. It very well could be, but remember; Matt Cooke is on pace for 164 goals, too. Time will truly tell. (Philadelphia Sports Daily)

HIS WAY OF HELPING: Ilya Kovalchuk is doing his part to raise money for the Yaroslavle Victims Families Fund. He is going to give away signed 8x10 photographs of himself to anybody who donates $17 dollars or more. To make a donation, contact PuckAgency, LLC at info@puckagency.com to say you want to donate. A response e-mail will be sent to you with instructions on what to do. (Fire and Ice Blog)

TWITTER TRASHTALKING: Speaking of good causes, the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers are encouraging fans to engage in a Twitter battle for Friday's game in Sweden. The Kings have announced that for ever #GoLAKings hashtag, that follower will be entered in a contest for a free round-trip flight and the Kings will donate to the Children's Hospital in L.A. for 5,000. Safe to assume the Rangers have a similar plan. (Pro Hockey Talk)

HERE TO STAY: Last season, ballyhooed Hurricanes prospect Zac Dalpe got just a taste of the NHL, playing in just 15 games a season ago, scoring three goals and an assists. But this year he hopes to stay from beginning to end in Carolina and the 'Canes would love it if he could bring home a second straight Calder Trophy to Carolina. (News and Observer)

QUICK STARTS: The Colorado Avalanche will have No. 2 overall draft pick Gabriel Landeskog on the roster, getting meaningful minutes this season. So that begs the question: who are the best rookies in Avalance/Nordiques history? Here is a list of the Top 10. (Denver Post)

NEW AND IMPROVED: Things are finally feeling they are headed in the right direction in Columbus. The team has some Stars, the financial future seems fixed and there's real excitement for the team. Aaron Portzline previews the season that lies ahead, including one interesting cereal box. (Columbus Dispatch)

HE CAN BE YOUR HERO: Meant to include this in yesterday's Skate, but here is Kris Versteeg of the Florida Panthers being put on the spot at a preseason fundraiser after a bidding war (jacked up by GM Dale Tallon) buys a song from the crooner. Credit to Versteeg, who doesn't hesitate or shy away from a, um, rendition of Enrique Iglesias's Hero. The song starts right around the 2-minute mark.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 7, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 1:42 am

Changed Man? Matt Cooke Scores 2 in win

By: Adam Gretz

Well this was a somewhat unexpected twist to the NHL's opening night.

When Matt Cooke was talking about changing the way he plays the game over the summer, the general consensus was that actions speak louder than words, and that we'll have to take a wait-and-see approach to see if he's not only committed to it, but also follows through with it. And let's face it, there's a pretty good reason for that.

You can't tell much from one game, but based on Pittsburgh's season opening 4-3 shootout win against Vancouver on Thursday night, the NHL's most controversial player managed to get off to a great start by being the surprising offensive hero for the Penguins, scoring a pair of goals. His first one was a power play tally midway through the first period, while he also managed to score a shorthanded goal early in the second period (video above) when he fired a shot through Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who appeared to unintentionally screen Roberto Luongo.

Cooke, of course, usually has his name appear in the news for a questionable hit or a suspension -- of which he's had four since joining the Penguins -- which only overshadows the fact he is a valuable player, as he showed on Thursday. When he's not doing something that puts his team at a disadvantage, that is, whether it be an ill-timed penalty or one of the aforementioned suspensions. His season-ending 17-game banishment last season, which cost him all seven of Pittsburgh's playoff games against Tampa Bay, seemed to be the breaking point and the catalyst to get him to talk about changing the way he plays.

After Thursday's game, which turned out to be wildly entertaiing if you managed to stay awake for it, he spoke with Versus about coming back from last year's suspension and talked about how he let his team down  last season -- and they absolutely did miss him in the playoffs -- and felt the need to make it up to them.

Scoring two goals in the season opener is a great way to start.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: October 1, 2011 10:34 am

Video: Matt Cooke scores from center ice

By: Adam Gretz

The Chicago Blackhawks brought veteran goaltender Ray Emery into the camp this year on a tryout contract to have him compete with Alexander Salak for the backup job to second-year starter Corey Crawford. The early results haven't been promising for Emery, and the worst moment of all came during a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

Emery came out of his crease to play a loose puck at the top of the faceoff circle to the right of his net and sent it off the boards into the neutral zone. Unfortunately for Emery and the Blackhawks, that's where Penguins forward Matt Cooke was patiently waiting to fire it from the red line into the open net that Emery abandoned, as you can see in the above video.

The puck not only took an awkward bounce over Emery's stick as he made a desperate attempt to scramble back and stop it, but it also went through the five-hole of Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook as he tried to bail out his goaltender and make the save himself. For the game Emery stopped just 15 of the 18 shots he faced (Pittsburgh's fourth goal was an empty net goal).

It's been a rough preseason for Emery in his quest to make the team.

After giving up four goals in his debut against the Edmonton Oilers back on Sep. 20, he took over halfway through a game in Pittsburgh and gave up four more goals on 19 shots. Over the past two games, both of which have come against the Penguins, he's managed to stop (small sample size alert!) just 30 of the 37 shots he's faced for a save percentage of .810.

By comparison, in Salak's two appearances he's recorded a .926 mark (38 saves on 41 shots).

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: August 23, 2011 10:54 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 11:32 pm

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways


By: Adam Gretz

If you're a fan of one of the 29 NHL teams that Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke doesn't play for there is a pretty good chance you dislike the way he plays the game of hockey.

The easiest way to describe his role is as one of the NHL's top agitators. He's paid to get under the skin of opponents and get them off their game playing a physical, in-your-face brand of hockey. Along with that, his style of play, and numerous run-ins with the NHL's disciplinary board, has resulted in him being suspended multiple times over the past couple of seasons, including twice last season.

The second suspension cost him the final 10 games of the regular season and all seven of Pittsburgh's playoff games following a hit on New York's Ryan McDonagh. It was a play that not only helped swing the momentum of that game, but also put a dent in the Penguins lineup for the remainder of the season.

All of that has added to his reputation, and seemingly made his name synomonus with "dirty" play in the eyes of many fans and observers.

Cooke has promised to change the way he plays the game, as he explained to John Hartstock of the Altoona Mirror on Monday night during an appearance at a minor league baseball game in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

From the Mirror:
"It's a mentality, it's how I'm going to approach the game,'' Cooke said of his plan to clean up his act. "And the team has worked hard in supporting me to accomplish these minor tweaks in my game.''
Cooke tends to be viewed as a player that needs to play the game on the edge, which is part of what makes him so effective in his role -- but that doesn't excuse some of the plays he's been involved in, including the aforementioned one on McDonagh. Because they're not neccessary for him to do his job.

Here's the thing about Cooke: all of the controversy that surrounds him on the ice (all of which he has brought on himself, of course) overshadows the fact that he really is good hockey player -- one that 29 other NHL teams would probably love to have patrolling their third line -- that doesn't need to be involved in such nonsense to be a valuable player. He's an excellent penalty killer (one of Pittsburgh's best), and possesses enough offensive ability to chip in between 10 and 15 goals every season. 

The other stuff doesn't add to his game, it takes away from it, and cleaning up his act will not only be good for the rest of the league and the Penguins, it will be good for him, too. So let's hope he's not only serious about changing the way he plays, but actually follows through with it.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 28, 2011 10:38 pm

Marc Savard still experiencing headaches

By: Adam Gretz

Boston Bruins center Marc Savard hasn't played in an NHL game since Jan. 22 -- and has appeared in just 32 games since March of 2010 -- due to a pair of concussions he's suffered over the past two seasons. According to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe, the 34-year-old forward is still experiencing headaches as a result of the head injuries, and barring a sudden change in his condition is unlikely to participate in training camp for this upcoming season.

Given the severity of the injuries and the fact he's now in his mid-30's, you at least have to entertain the possibility that this could cut his career short, or at the very least limit his ability and production when he does finally return to the ice.  And just as a point of reference, Pat LaFontaine was only 32 when his career came to a premature end due to concussions, while Eric Lindros was just 33. That's not to say the situations are identical, or that Savard's problems are as severe as the ones LaFontaine and Lindros faced, but it's at least worth considering at this point.

Prior to the injuries he was one of the best playmaking centers in the NHL, finishing in the top-six in assists four times (including three times in the top-three) between 2005 and 2009. During a game against Pittsburgh late in the 2009-10 season, Savard was blindsided by Penguins forward Matt Cooke on a devastating hit to the head that ultimately helped lead to Rule 48, which made similar blindside hits to the head illegal. He didn't play another game during the regular season but was able to return for the playoffs where he tallied one goal -- an overtime game winner -- and two assists in seven games.

After appearing in just 25 games this past season, where his production had plummeted from his career norms, all the way down to just two goals and eight assists, Savard was on the receiving end of another brutal hit, this time into the glass, from Colorado's Matt Hunwick, resulting in his second concussion in less than nine months.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: March 23, 2011 1:36 am
Edited on: March 23, 2011 1:54 am

Morning Skate: Rookie Reimer keeps Leafs going

Toronto Maples Leafs rookie goalie James Reimer must be doing something right if he's getting compared to a Transformer.

A couple “Optimus Reim” posters were spotted Xcel Energy Center Tuesday night where Reimer turned in a 29-save performance in a 3-0 Leafs victory over the Minnesota Wild, the Toronto Star reports.

The 23-year-old from Arborg, Manitoba, is the chief reason Toronto still has a shot at its first postseason berth since before the lockout. He had fair amount of admirers as friends and family members made the 540-mile trek from his hometown.

“You always want to win and always want to put on a good show for family, especially when they drive a long way,” Reimer told the newspaper. “They’re the ones who put in the time and effort into my life and into my hockey career.”
Line Changes

Reimer is 11-3-4 over his last 18 decisions and his three shutouts have come since Feb. 3. Not bad for a guy who was sent down to the AHL three times this season.

The Leafs finished the night in 10th place in the East, five points behind the eighth-place Buffalo Sabres. The Leafs have eight games remaining and it’s a safe bet Reimer will get a chance to start in each of those -- especially when you factor in the outrage when coach Ron Wilson started J.S. Giguere in a loss to Florida last Thursday.

Beyond the playoff push, Reimer has also emerged as a candidate for the Calder Trophy. The discussion for the league's top rookie has been dominated by Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture, New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner and Sabres forward Tyler Ennis.

Unlike those skaters who are on lines with talented teammates, Reimer is often on his own --- like when he turned away two shorthanded breakaway chances on Tuesday. But what'll hurt his Calder hopes is his short resume.

He'll play at most 37 games, fewer than Chicago's Corey Crawford, Philly's Sergei Bobrovsky and Washington's Michal Neuvirth --- all rookie goalies with solid stats on playoff-bound teams.

But if he gets the Leafs into the playoffs, that'll cover up his short job history and transfrorm him into Calder contender. 

COOKE AFTERMATH: It appears New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh feels for Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke, who was suspended Monday for the rest of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs for an elbow he delivered last weekend to McDonagh’s head. 

He spoke with Rangers broadcast outlet MSG before Tuesday’s game (Here’s the quote transcribed by TSN.ca): 

“You're trying to get good momentum going into the playoffs or keep your playoff spot and that was a close game at the time and momentum could go the other way. I think he's trying to make a big hit and he just caught me wrong. I don't think it was his intent.

"The suspension … it is what it is. The league is really pushing to get these hits out of the game. If that's a statement, it's a pretty big statement, for sure."

Earlier in the day, Pittsburgh's two newspapers (The Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review) reported Cooke expressed regret for the collision: 

"I realize and understand, more so now than ever, that I need to change," Mr. Cooke said. "That's what I wanted my message to be."

"I'm fortunate that Ryan McDonagh wasn't hurt," he said. "I don't want to hurt anybody. That's not my intention. I know that I can be better. ... I made a mistake, and I'm the one who's accountable for that. And I take full responsibility for it."

WEST END: Four points separate the fourth-place Phoenix Coyotes and 10th-place Calgary Flames entering play Wednesday. At the same point last season, that margin between the same two places in the Western Conference was 19 points.

NY Rangers 1, Florida 0
Boston 4, New Jersey 1
Carolina 4, Ottawa 3
Washington 5, Philadelphia 4 (SO)
Buffalo 2, Montreal 0
NY Islanders 5, Tampa Bay 2
Nashville 3, Edmonton 1
Toronto 3, Minnesota 0
Colorado 5, Columbus 4 (SO)
Phoenix 2, St. Louis 1

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 21, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 6:55 pm

Cooke suspended through first round of playoffs

Matt Cooke, the Pittsburgh Penguins' controversial forward, was suspended the rest of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs, the NHL announced Monday. 

 “Mr. Cooke, a repeat offender, directly and unnecessarily targeted the head of an opponent who was in an unsuspecting and vulnerable position," Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior V.P. of hockey operations, announced in a statement. "This isn't the first time this season that we have had to address dangerous behavior on the ice by Mr. Cooke, and his conduct requires an appropriately harsh response." 

Cooke was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for elbowing New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the head ealry in the third period of Sunday’s game. (Here's a look at the replay.) This is the fifth time he’s been suspended during his career and second time this season, making him a repeat offender under the league’s collective bargaining agreement. 

Penguins GM Ray Shero -- who advocated for a zero-tolerance policy on head hits at the NHL's general manager meetings last week -- agreed with Campbell's punishment.

“The suspension is warranted because that’s exactly the kind of hit we’re trying to get out of the game," Shero said in a statement. "Head shots have no place in hockey. We’ve told Matt in no uncertain terms that this kind of action on the ice is unacceptable and cannot happen. Head shots must be dealt with severely, and the Pittsburgh Penguins support the NHL in sending this very strong message.”

Cooke will forfeit $219,512.20 in salary. The suspension, which could be as much as 17 games if Pens' first-round series is stretched to seven games, is the longest in franchise history. 

Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg told reporters before Monday's game against the Penguins he'd like to have seen an outright ban for the rest of the season. 

"I think the suspensions he gets doesn't really bother him," Zetterberg told USA TODAY. "He keeps going out and doing that stuff."

The loss of Cooke compounds the Pens' lack of depth in the forward ranks. While Chris Kunitz recently returned from injury, Pittsburgh si still minus Sidney Crosby (out indefinitely with a concussion), Evgeni Malkin (out for season with a knee injury), Mike Comrie (hip) and Eric Tangradi (concussion).

"What puts us is a tough spot is when he misses games," Penguins forward Craig Adams told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He's a great player, and people don't realize how good of a player he is; if you don't watch him play every night you don't know. We know."

Cooke has 12 goals, 18 assists and is a plus-14 this season. 
-- A.J .Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 21, 2011 1:47 am
Edited on: March 21, 2011 1:00 pm

Morning Skate: How long should Matt Cooke sit?

Zero? Eight? The 10 remaining games the Pittsburgh Penguins have left in the regular season and the playoffs? 

Exactly how long Pens forward Matt Cooke will be suspended for his elbow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh Sunday afternoon overshadowed a solid day of hockey as all six games on the slate had some sort of playoff implications. Here's a look at the hit  in case you missed it. 

Cooke, the third rail that he is, will do that to a news cycle. 

A look at his checkered past -- which goes well beyond the fact he’s only been forced to sit 10 games during his career -- and there’s no way Cooke can be considered a victim. Still, he picked the worst time in league history to blindside a player, even though McDonagh remained in the game. Cooke received an elbowing major and a game misconduct for the third-period hit. 

Pens GM Ray Shero is just a few days removed from advocating a ban on all head hits  -- including hits similar to the check that has kept Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby out for more than two months with a concussion -- at the league's general managers meeting. Majority owner Mario Lemieux even offered up a tiered fine system for teams whose players are suspended by the league. 

That fact it occurred on national TV where NBC analysts Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire labeled the hit as dirty doesn’t help either. 

Line Changes

"I don't think you can talk about eliminating headshots as an organization and not expect that to be examined," coach Dan Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review . "It looks to be contact right to the head. The league will look at that at treat it as such."

The Pens will likely soon get the ”clear and strong message” Lemieux wrote was lacking from the league after the NHL’s  response to last month’s fiasco between his team and the New York Islanders

If just about any other player -- maybe outside of maybe New York Islanders enforcer Trevor Gillies --  delivered the hit, this wouldn’t have lit up Facebook and Twitter like it did. The perceived hypocrisy for a team advocating for more stringent rules governing head hits despite continuing to employ Cooke was just too much for fans and pundits alike not seize upon. 

Here’s a quick roundup of opinions:

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal :  
If this isn’t a suspension for the rest of the season, then the NHL’s Lord of Discipline, Colin Campbell, is really going soft. Maybe the real message for Cooke, though, would also be a detention for the playoffs, when the games really matter — when Cooke will hurt not only himself but his teammates by his absence in a lineup that is already short-staffed.

TSN’s Darren Dreger :
With the red-alert sensitivity to head hits, especially illegal head hits like the one that earned Cooke a major and game misconduct, it's conceivable the Penguins veteran, a repeat offender with a reputation for delivering cheapshots, could earn a 10-game suspension or more. That's based on league-wide reaction. 

Former NHL player Jeremy Roenick :

“I feel bad for Mario. He stuck his neck on the line to clean up dirty plays and his own player again puts him in a tough situation.”

Alec Schall, agent for injured Montreal Canadiens player Max Pacioretty

“Should NHL rules protect players like Cooke or Crosby? I say let's protect (Cosby) and when we want flying elbows to the head we can watch MMA.”

 Mike Brophy of Rogers Sportsnet :

The eyes of the hockey world will be on the NHL's hockey operations department to see how it handles the latest Cooke catastrophe. Anything shy of a major suspension (minimum 10 games) will not be met with support.

“I didn’t see him coming,” McDonagh said of Cooke. “I had no idea. I know it hurt, that’s for sure.”

I don't think you can talk about eliminating headshots as an organization and not expect that to be examined," coach Dan Bylsma said. "It looks to be contact right to the head. The league will look at that at treat it as such.


NY Rangers 5, Pittsburgh 2  
New Jersey 3, Columbus 0  
Nashville 4, Buffalo3 (OT)  
Montreal 8, Minnesota 1
Anaheim 5, Calgary 4 (OT)  
Chicago 2, Phoenix 1  

-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com