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Wild GM defends Cooke signing: ‘He’s really evolved’

Jul 5, 2013, 11:08 PM EDT

Matt Cooke AP

Free agent signings are all about taking gambles, but by signing Matt Cooke, the Minnesota Wild also risked some serious public relations fallout.

If you know any Wild fans, it’s likely you heard quite the uproar.

The Wild employ former Pittsburgh Penguins front office members including GM Chuck Fletcher and head coach Mike Yeo, so it’s clear they believe he’s worth the risk. Fletcher seems pretty well convinced that Cooke is a changed man (and player), as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

“There’s no question when he came into the league, he was an agitating player, a player that was in the league because of his physical play and his ability to get players off their game,” Fletcher said. “He’s really evolved.”

The former Penguins assistant GM thinks people will be pleasantly surprised with the 34-year-old’s versatility.

Cooke admits that there’s still an edge to his game, although he’s consciously tried to be on the right side of the rules.

“I still feel that’s the way I need to play to be successful,” Cooke said. “For me, it was eliminating the high-risk hits, and I always approached it to go out and get the biggest hit possible. With the speed of the game and the way [you can’t] hold up, it just brought in some situations that were a lot more dangerous.”

Much like Raffi Torres trying to win the hearts of San Jose Sharks fans, Cooke will need to overcome some bad memories from his days with the Vancouver Canucks.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of fans that aren’t fond of me and they remember when I played for Vancouver, but hopefully I can change their opinion quickly,” Cooke said.

As Torres would agree, the best way to do that is to help the Wild win.

  1. gallyhatch - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    “He’s really evolved, he hasn’t been suspended in like two years or so.”

    • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:49 AM

      Minnesota fans you are about to ride “The Cookie Monster”. It will make you cheer, shake your head, and be frightened out of yor mind for the safety of your captain.

      Please keep your hands and legs inside the ride at all times as limbs tend to smack off external objects (in frustration) throughout the duration of the ride.

      If you have small children with you, please secure them before the ride begins as they might not know how to handle your wild emotional swings.

      Please do not try and leave the ride until it has come to complete stop.

      Enjoy!!!

    • c9castine - Jul 6, 2013 at 1:40 AM

      Minnesota fans are getting an excellent hockey player and one I am sad to see go. I didn’t know much about Matt Cooke when he signed in Pittsburgh in 2008. He gets a bad reputation and a lot of it is unwarranted, some is. He is ne of the few guys who has said he was going to play the game with more discipline and care and actually did. And when he did he scored 19 goals. He’s a Stanley cup champion who brings the same hard fast and SKILLED game every night. I’ve seen Cooke plow his way to the net to score a goal and I have seen him one hand toe drag defenseman and roof it (about two months ago). I’m sure ill get a lot of thumbs down but I’ll bet if I ask a Minnesota fan what they think of Matt Cooke next July they’ll give me a Thumbs up

      • hockeyflow33 - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:19 AM

        Unwarranted???? Wow you’re a moron

      • chicagocary - Jul 6, 2013 at 1:35 PM

        Yeah, he wants to play more disciplined. That’s like me saying I’ve been a murderer all my life but I’ll try to be better, I promise!

    • rsmaggiemae - Jul 6, 2013 at 5:46 PM

      He has cleaned up his act in recent years and just think of the intimidation he has against the teams that the Wild will play.. I would think that opposing players would have to be on thier toes with him… just the thought of him on the ice might be enough for some of them to make mistakes on the ice..
      I have always liked him… and his hit on Karlsson was not his fault, it was a accident.
      I watched that film about 500 times and could not see it as intentional..
      Yes, in the past he was the bad boy, but he has really worked on making legal hits.
      Great for the WILD

      • lordstanley65 - Jul 6, 2013 at 6:07 PM

        You really believe this?

      • rsmaggiemae - Jul 7, 2013 at 3:49 PM

        Yes, I believe what I saisd about Cooke and other players on the opposing teams
        as if you listened to KFAN on Sunday morning with Russo he stated the exact same thing that I did about the other teams being wary of him on the ice.So it could be a deterrant of other players scoring .. time will tell

  2. einjzmolf - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    He should change his name to Matt Cheffe then.

  3. porkchopexpress1969 - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:40 PM

    Complete douche this guy is. Another reason to hate this team.

    • gooterbaby - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      I hate you.

  4. northstarnic - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    Suck it, fletcher. You screwed us.

    • lordfletcher - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:58 AM

      Cooke is a better 3rd line guy than Clutterbuck. Get over the name Cooke and see his on the ice value.

      Stop crying sally

      • jpelle82 - Jul 7, 2013 at 10:23 AM

        definitely an upgrade over clutterbuck, especially because of what he brings on the pk.

  5. Stiller43 - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    Seriously PHT, why dont these obvious spammers get deleted/blocked?

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:20 AM

      I thought habsman did?

      • lordstanley65 - Jul 6, 2013 at 6:09 PM

        No, he’s greenmtnboy now. It’s pretty obvious to anyone who’s dealt with him awhile.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jul 6, 2013 at 7:37 PM

        Apparently I have to write clearer jokes.

        Habsman write stupid posts.

        Spammers write stupid posts.

        If stupid posts = stupid posts, then Habsman = Spammer.

        That should clear any confusion.

  6. sknut - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    He has not had a major penalty in 200 games basically 3 seasons worth. The Karlson incident was questionable for sure but it’s hard to say he hasn’t matured some. Maybe he has changed its quite possible.

    • cambee99 - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:50 AM

      He had a major in ECF. Boarding Adam McQuid in game 1.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:20 AM

      You’re not supposed to get suspended, that’s not an accomplishment

  7. sjsharks66 - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    Take it from someone who was just as upset when the sharks signed Torres. Trust me, you will like him when he plays. I am very happy Torres is with the Sharks for another 3 years. You all will love Cooke. He is a great player, with a bad past.

    • drewsylvania - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:12 AM

      A bad present, too.

  8. ray2013 - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    There’s a positive and a negative to this signing;

    The negative: one bad play could result in a pretty severe suspension, and I don’t think that the Wild has enough proven depth to address losing one of their top-9 forwards for an extended period.

    The postive: I just saved a bunch of money by switching the Geico. (Come on, seriously. You can’t stop ads?)

    • ray2013 - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:04 AM

      *switching to geico.

      I suck. I know. (one hundred thumbs up and I get to go to disneyland.)

  9. micklethepickle - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:18 AM

    Reading the comments from Wild fans has made me respect MIN a lot more. I would be furious if my favorite team signed a scumbag POS like Cooke also; you guys are a classy fanbase. Shame that PIT didn’t acknowledge Cooke for what he is – terrible for the game of hockey. Toews, Kane, the Sedins, and Doughty better watch out, because Cooke is out West now and looking to scramble brains and destroy knees….

  10. phillyphanatic77 - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:50 AM

    Despise Cooke. Think he’s a total scumbag, based on his entire body of work. However, I will admit that he has changed. Is he still capable of crossing the line? Absolutely, but he’s not the player he once was. He used to live for cheap shots. Now he’ll land an occasional one but he seems more concerned about the well-being of the team. And he does have some surprising skill. As much as I hate him I think he’ll be a good addition for the Wild. And I’m glad I don’t have to see him in a Pens uniform anymore.

  11. williplett - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:16 AM

    Before this last season the Wild signed a new play by play guy for their TV broadcasts. He was not a popular choice. In fact, some delusional fans talked about trying to mount a boycott of sponsors because of the choice and I’m sure some weird e-mails were sent demanding a quick change. The reaction I have seen from Wild fans across the web today to the signing of Matt Cooke reminds me of that sort of pi$$y response.

    I hated Matt Cooke until today. You make the best of this situation, however. You have to realize that he has skated with the Cup, that he has changed his way, that he led all Pens forwards in blocked shots last season, that he will make the PK better, that he had nearly as many points as Seto last year and that Matt Cullen will not worth $3.5 mil as a 38 year old.

    I realize that grudges exist, but there are tons of Pens fans across numerous sites bemoaning the fact that he left and wishing him well with the Wild. It sounds like the guy works his a$$ off and is continuing to change his ways. After all, the hits he delivered years ago were still legal and many players made their names by doing the exact same thing.

    Wild fans need to move beyond grudge holding-booing Bertuzzi got REALLY old after a while and hating on Mikko and Granlund is reallycounterproductive-and just see what the next few years hold. Maybe Cooke adds some heart and spark to a franchise that sorely needs both of those things. Who knows?

    • getadealdonealready - Jul 6, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      You had me at Willie Plett, but lost me when you compared a Anthony Lapanta to goon who has no respect for the game or the people who play it.

      • williplett - Jul 6, 2013 at 8:26 PM

        I am not comparing LaPanta and Cooke here. I am talking about Wild fan reaction to both situations. There have been a LARGE number of whiny fans regarding those-and other-issues spread out across numerous websites and social media platforms. Reactions included people hoping he got hurt in preseason and had to retire, people calling for Fletcher to be fired, people hoping the Wild tanks next season so they trade Cooke and, of course, people calling for a boycott.

        Just kind of tired of some of this team’s fans right now.

  12. pitpenguinsrulez - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:57 AM

    It’s a shame to see the Cooke-monster go! Gonna miss him…best of luck in the West

  13. pdmjr - Jul 6, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    Matt Cooke plays hockey like a little boy, with tenacity and grit and a devilish grin on his face.

  14. steelers88 - Jul 6, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    I will really miss Matt Cooke. He was like a spark plug for the Penguins and he has matured he hasn’t done anything cheap (well maybe except the karalsson incident). Matt Cooke is actually a pretty good goal scorer for a tough guy.

    • getadealdonealready - Jul 6, 2013 at 8:56 AM

      Boy I’m really starting to come around to this guy, he only ended 1 other players career this year, he must have changed!

      I’m extremely disappointed in my hometown wild, it doesn’t matter how much talent/skill someone has if they don’t respect the game, and I would expect the Wild Management to know that. I know there is a strong base of fans who will never warm to the likes of him. Very sad day indeed!

      • handsofsweed - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:36 PM

        4 the playoffs. Which career did cooke end this season?

    • wikidpissah - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      There’s a big difference between a tough guy and a cheap shot artist. Cooke is the latter.

  15. dboldave - Jul 6, 2013 at 8:08 AM

    Cooke has evolved. It’s been like years since he’s ended another player’s season. Now he just injures them for MOST of the season! Stand up guy he is!

  16. blue21c - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Matt Cooke is a SCUMBAG!!!!!!!!! I’m sure the Penguins are glad to get rid oh him!!!!!

    • tomahawk1234 - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      Not a chance, good luck Cookie, we will miss you!

  17. ironman721 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Enjoy the headache. Signed…a Pens fan.

  18. vstar1us - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Wow, all you Saints have a lot of opinions of this guy. I just want to see the Wild play some good Hockey. Can we chase the Cup this year maybe, but I would say the Wild fan base will be cheering as hard as they can. Go Wild Go……….

  19. The Hockey Fan - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Now Pens fans that have called him the best 3rd liner in the league will finally understand what the rest of us see.

  20. amityvillefun - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    The guy is a hack. If there was any true justice in the NHL, one of the players would take upon themselves to take this guy out once and for all.

    Savard had a really promising career and a guy with almost zero hockey talent ruined it and the guy’s life.

    Cooke is a loser. Dirty player who says the right things as of late, but still gets away with stomping on Karlson and taking him out from what would have been a great season.

    Way to go Wild. You just informed the entire NHL you condone this sort of behavior. Enjoy the consequences that go with it.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 6, 2013 at 7:38 PM

      I never understand this argument. So you’re mad at him for ruining careers and yet you want someone else to go out and ruin his?

  21. lordfletcher - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:12 AM

    “my roomate’s step-sister makes $60/hour on the . She has been laid off for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $21308 just working on the for a few hours. Go to this web site and read morego to this site home tab for more detail—>>>”

    WOW I am drunk… it took me till “on the for a few hours” … to realize this was BS…

    Even more funny, it tool me ten times to type this. oh sailor jerry, you win

  22. drone501 - Jul 6, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    she’s a hooker peckerhead.

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