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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.”

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