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Cooke seeks Derek Boogaard’s parents’ blessing to wear late son’s number

Jul 9, 2013, 9:50 AM EDT

Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins controls the puck against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on March 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Penguins defeated the Avalanche 5-1.
(March 2, 2012 - Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

34-year-old forward Matt Cooke recently signed with the Minnesota Wild and that act alone has created controversy.

Amid that, he did an interview with KFAN and among the subjects that came up was the sensitive issue of what number he would wear. Throughout his career, he has been No. 24, which was also worn in Minnesota by the late Derek Boogaard.

“The team told me they’re OK with me wearing it because Marty [Havlat] wore it after [Boogaard],” Cooke said. “I don’t really feel comfortable putting it on without his mum and dad’s blessing.

“I’ve sent emails off to them. I want to let them know that by putting it on I’m absolutely not doing anything disrespectful. It’s been my only number in the NHL, but at the end of the day, I don’t want anyone’s feelings hurt. I don’t want anyone to think that I am being disrespectful and I want to make sure I take care of that before I even entertain the thought of putting it on.”

Len Boogaard, the father of Derek, forwarded the message to his kids, including Derek’s brother, Ryan.

“I read the e-mail and I greatly respect Matt for what he said in it,” Ryan said, according to the Star Tribune. “I texted my dad and told him I have no issues with it. I’m very impressed with Matt for what he did by reaching out to my parents.

“He didn’t have to do it as he could have just worn #24, but he thought of Derek and our family before doing so. I knew that someone would eventually wear #24 and I was not expecting them to reach out to us, so when Matt did, I could not have been happier.”

  1. lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    …aaaaand here come the “Like you’ve ever tried to be respectful” comments.

    • c9castine - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      I love Matt Cooke. Signed, pens fan. :)

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        Just listened to his conversation with Wild beat writer Mike Russo on KFAN from yesterday, and I think I’m starting to love him too.

      • rsmaggiemae - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:47 PM

        I am from Minnesota and I am glad the Wild signed him. Give the guy a chance
        Lets all be fair. He is no different than Brown or Subban and if you know hockey then go back to the Brutal Bruins of the 70’s or Schultz of the Flyers there were some really really terrible hits back then. but the players were not scuttinized like they are today
        There were many concussions but they didnt clarify what the damage was in the 70’s
        I know, as I was there watching the games..
        I think with him on the ice there has to be imtimidation to the opposing team and theredore mistakes will be made with the puck on thier part/
        He can score goals and PP which is what the Wild need/
        Just give the guy a fair chance before you condemn him over and over again
        TIME WILL TELL and I am sure that he has changed him game
        from the past.
        And Yes. I have season tickets to the Wild so I will be there to see all the games with him playing…..Cant wait.

    • rsmaggiemae - Jul 10, 2013 at 4:05 PM

      I went and backtracked on the hit on Savard made by Cooke, and yes Savard did get a concussion.from a illegal hit.however he did not stay away from the game long enough to rid himself of the concussion issues, and he went back to play way too early and in the 2nd or 3rd game back he was hit again and got a severe 2nd concussion on top of the first one, that was not yet healed, and then could not play again
      Savard blamed Cooke. which he should have for the 1st hit-concussion, however maybe if he had stayed away from the game longer until everything was fine, and not got hit again he would still be playing. so I am saying part of it is his fault, for being to anxious to return to playing Look at how long it took Crosby to return.. Does everyone now condemn the hit on Pronger??? I never hear much about that anymore….
      Savard returned back to the game way too early…

  2. pastabelly - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    He should wear #91 to remind himself of a great career he ruined with his dirty play. Bastard!!!!

    • hockey412 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      Great idea. I’m sure that will go over great with everyone and not be criticized as being the slightest bit disrespectful.

      • pastabelly - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:22 AM

        I was being a bit sarcastic in that post. Of course, it would be disrespectul to put on a #91 jersey. My point is Cooke needs to be reminded of people’s lives he changed as the result of his reckless disregard for the lives of others. Anyone comparing him to Chara needs to think again.

        Here’s the Matt Cooke montage (doesn’t include the Savard hit).

        But all you really need to know what defines Cooke as a person (not a player) is the the Savard hit. Here are Marc’s words and the hit.

      • hockey412 - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

        “Anyone comparing him to Chara needs to think again”…it’s hard to argue with that logic when you have such strong proof. These are opinions…I think we understand what yours is. It’s hypocritical and naive, but that’s fine. Cooke can be your villain, and to you, Chara can be a “good guy”. No matter what that dirty scum does.

        You can make these videos about anyone, and that’s exactly my point. My favorite is the one that Jon Stewart aired on his show regarding the hypocrisy of the Boston organization and fans – you should check that one out!

    • dchambers144 - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      So, should Todd Bertuzzi have to wear #36 for Steve Moore. People like to critisize Cooke for dirty play, and a lot of his actions were, but remember there are some guys still in the league who are worse and don’t carry Cooke’s reputation. Also, Scott Stevens made a living on the same type of hit that Cooke put on Savard.

  3. ironcity6pak - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Love the guy and will miss him a pens sweater

  4. cdalton2690 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    I am very very surprised to see this kind of respect from Matt Cooke. This was an extremely classy move on his part ( I cant believe I just said that). Maybe he is a better person off the ice than he is on it.

    • bigkniht37 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      he actually came off as a pretty nice guy off the ice when the Pens were on 24/7 for the winter classic. too bad that doesn’t translate onto the ice for this guy, for whatever reason he just doesn’t get it.

    • davebabychreturns - Jul 9, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      Cooke is a fairly classy guy off the ice as far as I know. I think he still operates a charity here in Vancouver from his time as a Canuck..

      But yeah on the ice he’s always been a habitual line stepper.

  5. yougotgirouxed - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Who cares?

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      It’s summer. They’ve gotta post something.

  6. hy3rid28 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    good guy Matt Cooke?? sounds like an oxymoron

  7. amityvillefun - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    OK, he cares about Boogaard’s parents approval, but probably never made a single gesture towards Savard and his family for all the damage he caused? He ruined the guys life! A part of his paycheck from every game he has played since should go to research for concussions since he is to blame directly.

    This is nothing more than “damage control” in Minnesota where the fans are unhappy with his signing, and he is trying to win some “good guy points.” Nice try Matt.

    The NHL can’t wait for you to retire and just go away.

    • pastabelly - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:39 AM

      Unfortunately, many Penguins fans only like this guy because he wore their laundry for several years and don’t give a crap about Marc Savard.

      • hockey412 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:47 AM

        What do Pens fans have to do with either of these statements? Or are you just trying to pick a fight with an entire fanbase. Or are you just a whiney a-hole with very little going on this morning, trying to earn approval by shooting your mouth off about things you know very little about. Just shut it, pastabelly – it’s you no one gives a crap about.

      • hockey412 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:50 AM

        Also…if that is how you feel, why do Boston fans mock Habs fans when they talk about how dirty Chara is? There’s no difference in play, please don’t give me the “chara is a clean player” crap – it’s simply not true. It’s hypocritical.

      • miketoasty - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM

        As I have said before, Matt Cooke’s hit on Savard was dirty, but that wasn’t the hit that ended Savard’s career. Unlike most players that take their time to come back from concussions Savard wanted to play in the playoffs, rushed back early, got hit in the head again, and was out again. If that wasn’t enough, he came back early again, only to be hit in the head again, which then ended his career.

        Rate this negatively all you want, it doesn’t change the fact that the real person(s) at fault for ending Savard’s career was his doctors and coaches that let him play before he was ready to come back.

        As a Pens fan I knew Sarvard had plenty of potential and a ton of skill. Going up against that guy was like going up against Ovechkin or Stamkos knowing that he could change the game during any shift. I liked the guy and what happened to him is terrible, and I wish him and his family the best on his recovery, but if/when Crosby was out I didn’t go for blood on Steckel nor Hedman because it was Crosby’s fault for not sitting out the next game and he and the medical staff are the only ones to blame for his extended absence.

      • montrealbbr - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:57 AM

        I think both Cooke and Chara should have been thrown out of the league for their dirty play. Chara broke a guys neck and Cooke likes to cause concussions and throws in a sliced achilles tendon for good measure.

      • dboldave - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        I know that this Bruins fan mocks the Habs fans because they called the police after watching a play on the ice. If you think this is a good way to react to something you see happen during a game, please explain your reasons. And yes, I realize that not all of the Habs fans did this but a large enough called to warrant an investigation.

      • pdmjr - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:28 AM

        He reached out to Sevard more than once do you expect him to keep doing it or what? Time passes, Sevard was a pussey

  8. sjsharks66 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    People change their ways. Matt Cooke is the best example of that. The past is the past. Cooke never ended anyone’s career. He may have laid the foundation to set up his career to be ended. He is just an easier person to blame than the others who hurt savard, because of his history.

    • amityvillefun - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      He laid “the foundation to set up his career to be ended?”

      He’s “changed his ways?”

      Right. Sure he has. Just ask Erik Karlsson.

      How do people defend this POS?

      There aren’t enough “sorrys” in the world to undo the damage this tool has inflicted.

      He turtled like a champ against Lucic in the Eastern Conference Finals. Lowlife, cheap-shot coward.

      I hope he is booed every time he sets foot on the ice for the Wild. Maybe they got him so they would feel confident he wouldn’t wipe out Parise’s career.

      • hockey412 - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:02 AM

        Lucic never even stood up to Scott though, after running Miller. We can go on and on with these arguments. There are very few “clean” hockey players. Not Lucic, not Cooke, not Chara. There are only hypocritical hockey fans, in need of a villain so that THEIR favorite players’ dirty plays are viewed as good deeds vs. evil men. Blah.

      • miketoasty - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM

        I can’t even take your comment seriously, when you start talking about Cooke’s ability to slice someones tendon with a split second to do it, you make yourself look like an idiot.

      • dboldave - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:20 AM

        Lucic couldn’t have stood up to Scott after running Miller because Scott wasn’t on the team until the following season. I don’t remember who it was but Buffalo called someone up for the game after this and he fought Lucic and lost.

        I realize hitting the goalie isn’t considered clean and I don’t disagree with you on this but I will say it’s laughable at how the players react (or in the case of Buffalo, don’t react) when their goalie is hit. They wear more protective gear than anyone else on the ice yet people are afraid that they will just come apart if you touch them!

    • montrealbbr - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:02 AM

      I guess its easier to defend dirty players now that Raffi Torres is on your favorite team. I hate to defend anything related to the Bruins but the Cooke hit ended Savards career. He was never the same player after that hit.

      Why the NHL allows guys like this to continue playing is beyond me. Im still waiting for Cooke to kill somebody and maybe then they will act.

      • amityvillefun - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM

        Chara didn’t end “Patches” career. Big difference. Even a “police investigation” didn’t determine it was on purpose.

        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If Chara really was a dirty player, you’d see players going to the hospital after every game. The guy’s elbows are level with most player’s heads!

        Aside from the rare “error in judgement,” Chara actually isn’t as dirty as people say he is.

  9. mnhockey24 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    no way should anyone wear #24 for the wild ever again they should retire it

    • jpelle82 - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      why? he’s not going to the hall of fame, he had what 2 goals in his career? i dont even think he hit 20 pts. he was a goon, he never played a full season. its a sad story, i understand that, his brother has to live with the fact that he gave him the drugs that killed him. in no way should you hang his jersey in the rafters. and why would you anyway, for fighting and abusing drugs and alcohol? not something you want kids to look up at while attending a game.

  10. 19to77 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    On the one hand, it takes a lot of perseverance to convince people you’ve changed after playing such a dirty game earlier in your career. On the other, in the last two years he’s really seemed to get the message. Way fewer penalties, no notable bad hits or suspensions, pretty much the best actual hockey of his career, and now this. He had no need to do this, the number’s not retired or anything. He just did it because he could and he felt it was a good thing to do. That’s pretty impressive stuff.

    I’m probably never going to like the guy, and it’s hard to forget the sh*t he did before. A lot of people never will, and it’s understandable. But at this point it’s hard to deny that he’s trying to wash that out through his actions. Might never fully succeed, but he’s trying.

  11. 950003cups - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    His number doesn’t mean squat. If Minnesota cared at all they would have retired his number. Plus someone else already wore it after Boogaard passed.

    • mnhockey24 - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:20 AM

      nope no one has warn it since he passed havlat wore it for one year the year boogy played in new york then he was traded at the draft for heater so no one has warn #24 for the wild the last 2 years

      • mnhockey24 - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:25 PM

        wow thumbs down for stating a fact some people need to get a life

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:47 PM

        Dude (or lady), for the love of… USE SOME PUNCTUATION.

      • hockeydon10 - Jul 9, 2013 at 3:02 PM

        Martin Havlat is listed as using #24 the season following Boogaard’s passing.

        #14 in 2009-10
        #24 in 2010-11

  12. jaybaileys - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    I get why people hate Cooke. The guy has tried to change, blaming him for the Karlsson thing is a pretty weak argument. I’m just curious who do you guys think is a clean hockey player? Don’t get me wrong there are plenty, but every team has a guy who has lost it at some point. Bertuzzi is still playing, right. Ovechkin has taken runs at guys and hurt them, Chara on the Montreal guy, etc. I didn’t like the Savard hit or the one on the Ranger that got him suspended for 17 games. IF he was so bad he would be out of the league, but he’s not. He’s got a new 3 year contract and got a raise. So is that Cooke’s fault or the NHL? Hockey can be an ugly game, if the player’s don’t respect their opponents they can do lots of damage. Let’s hope he can continue to play smart and not make the hits he did in the past. Otherwise, someone needs to take care of business and make sure he can’t because it doesn’t appear the league will take any action.

  13. montrealbbr - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    I’ll believe Cooke changed when he can play at least one full season without causing another player to be severely injured. I guess bad luck just seems to follow him around. And I dont think Cooke is skilled enough to know that he was going to cut an achilles tendon but I think he knew that he could hurt someone lifting his skate like he did and still did it anyway. Any Pittsburgh fan that disagrees would feel differently if Cooke played for the Flyers or if this play was against one of their precious stars. That day could be coming now that hes with another team.

    • kiilmerr87 - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      So then you believe hes changed? Because in the 2011-12 season he didn’t injure anyone.

    • dueman - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      This is moronic buddy! How can you say that you don’t think that he planned on cutting his achilles but he planned on hurting him none the less? Also for your information, it’s not just Pittsburgh fans that are defending Cooke on this. It’s any hockey fan that has a brain! Cooke has done some (s)hitty things in the past, but you really have to get over the Karlsson thing, because you only making yourself look like a moron.

  14. jaybaileys - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    The Penguins have lost Crosby and Malkin for extended periods of time the past few seasons jackass. It happens, its a collision sport. They guy has changed, some people will never accept him that’s the way it is because of his past.

  15. wjarvis - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Off the ice Cooke is not a bad guy, as you can see from this example and a lot of the work done he does in the communities where he plays. On the ice he never had the pure talent to stay in the league without trying to be on the fringe of legal play. As a result he has crossed the line many times and built the current reputation he has. Even though he’s nowhere near as bad as he used to be, I’m still not sure he deserves to keep playing in the league since he has caused way too many injuries with reckless play. It’s a privilege to be a professional athlete and I just hope he doesn’t injure anyone else.

  16. lonespeed - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Since when did a third-line defensemen who overdosed on drugs deserve his number be put on a reserve list for a team he didn’t even last play for before he passed away?

    The sport has lost far more respectable people in recent years and I don’t see an outcry to reserve their numbers on former teams. Is Vancouver or St. Louis holding onto Pavol Demitra’s number? He’s far more deserving than Derek Boogaard.

    • spiciercheez - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:24 PM

      He was a forward but that’s fine.

  17. rebekah319 - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    Honestly people should stop bring up the past events that have followed Matt Cooke in his career. You cant change the outcomes or change what happened. It is what it is. You have to be willing to get over it and let it all go. Not saying the guy is perfect or anything but I feel like people should have a open mind and not be so quick to bash or judge before you actually see what he does in person on the ice. He cant change what he did in the past but he can correct his mistakes and be a better person- so how about you all just give him the chance then make a full opinion. Do not judge a book by its cover before you see it. This complaining about one person gets so old you cant change anything so either deal or just keep your opinion to yourself.

  18. 950003cups - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Chara isn’t dirty. There’s a difference between a player trying to lay a guy out with a clean hit and trying to lay him in the hospital with a sneaky blindsided ILLEGAL hit.

    Scott Stevens was a clean wrecking ball. Matt Cooke is just a sneaky cheap shot artist who, in my opinion, deserves to have his career ended the way he tried to end other’s.

  19. bruinspaw - Jul 9, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    savvy PR move…..

  20. blue21c - Jul 9, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Matt Cooke is still a SCUMBAG!!!!’

  21. kicksave1980 - Jul 9, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    I’m far from Matt Cooke’s biggest fan, but that was a class move on his part.

  22. drewsylvania - Jul 9, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    I call it a calculated decision to increase his ability to get the benefit of the doubt on questionable hits.

  23. theageofquarrel - Jul 9, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Whaaa whaaaaa whaaaaa Matt Cooke

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