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Kaleta to appeal suspension, Cooke offers to help him change

Oct 16, 2013, 4:40 PM EDT

KaletaBlood Getty Images

Wednesday was a busy one in the world of Patrick Kaleta.

First, word broke the Sabres’ agitator would appeal his 10-game suspension for a headshot on Columbus’ Jack Johnson. That news was then followed by an ESPN report claiming Matt Cooke — former public enemy No. 1 when it came to player safety — had reached out and offered assistance in reforming Kaleta’s style of play.

Yeah. Lots to digest here.

First, the appeal. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Kaleta has decided to proceed after conferring with his agent and the NHLPA. According to the CBA, the first appeal will be heard by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman — should Bettman uphold the ruling, there is a clause allowing for a second appeal, one that would go through a neutral arbitrator.

Kaleta could be challenging the merit of his “repeat offender” status. He wasn’t penalized for the hit on Johnson and Johnson wasn’t hurt on the play, suggesting the 10 game suspension was based past transgressions — of which there have been many.

The catch, though, is CBA language on a possible 18-month statue of limitations for repeat offenders.

Within the last 18 months, Kaleta has only been suspended once, a five-gamer for boarding Rangers forward Brad Richards in March of 2013.

Kaleta’s previous suspensions (four games for headbutting, two games for boarding) happened more than 18 months ago. It’s worth mentioning that another notorious repeat offender — San Jose’s Raffi Torres — had a successful appeal of his 25-game suspension in 2012, getting it knocked down to 21 games.

Now, onto the second part of this story — the one where Cooke decided to intervene.

Cooke and the Wild played Buffalo on Monday and, as Jason Pominville caught up with his ex-teammate, Cooke introduced himself to Kaleta and said he’d be willing to talk about reforming his game.

“I laid it out there that if he wants to know what I did, I’d gladly talk to him about it,” Cooke told ESPN. “He knows Pommer, so I told him ‘If you want to get hold of me, I’m there to talk.’”

Cooke has been a different player since a series of transgressions led to a 17-game suspension (10 regular season, seven postseason) in 2010-11. He says hours of video research and learning how to re-think the game have made him a safer player.

“There’s a huge difference in the way I approach the game now. The days of just going for the big hit, every time possible, is just not feasible,” Cooke said. “The way the game is played now, the speed of the game, and the way the kids are taught to play the game.”

  1. sheepdog32 - Oct 16, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Oggie Oglethorpe is also consulting on the rehab.

    • claudegirwho - Oct 16, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      Tell her you love her whispering eye

      • 950003cups - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:05 PM

        COOKE: Hey Pat, you can’t do crap like that unless you have a cry baby owner, and player who Bettman has a bromance with. I had to stop when I was sent to Minnesota.

    • 11111111111a22 - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:19 PM

      “I thought he was still in prison…”

  2. DED - Oct 16, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    So Cooke is starting the AA of goon players. While some are going to laugh, I think it’s interesting.

  3. sjsharks66 - Oct 16, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    I think this very admirable of Cooke to do. I think he will have a job in the NHL’s player safety when he retires.

    • storminator16 - Oct 16, 2013 at 5:27 PM

      I went “thumbs up” on this because that was hilarious. Hey, somehow Brendan Shannahan is. Then again, Cooke will need to add “transgressions against Craig Janney” to his list of credentials as well.

      • 950003cups - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:09 PM

        Storminator, Shanahan was a dirty little rat. He once attacked a star player because he didn’t sign an autograph for him 4 years prior. LOL

      • hockeyflow33 - Oct 16, 2013 at 8:44 PM

        That Shanny story is hilarious!

  4. pxland - Oct 16, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Good on Cooke, but I think Kaleta might say, “research?”

  5. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Can we get HBO’s 24/7 to cover these Matt Cooke “Goons Anonymous” classes?

    • sabatimus - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      Then I guess they wouldn’t be anonymous, huh?

  6. billsin20xx - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    If kessel got a three day preseason vacation for deliberately slashilng Scott while he was being held by two other players kaleta def should have received less then a 10 game suspension!

    • sabatimus - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      What Kessel did is far less serious than what Kaleta did. Kessel didn’t get up a head of speed and headshot a player with his elbow. I think Kessel should’ve been suspended for 3 regular season games for what he did, but to compare the two incidents doesn’t make sense.

    • c9castine - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      i would have given him 10 games for looking like a girl while he was doing it.

  7. Stiller43 - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Is it really that hard to change your game? You just dont do what is getting you in trouble…assuming youre not blacking out and doing cheap shots, it should be pretty damn easy to “reform.” The problem is the desire.

  8. 7mantel - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    Cooks wife must have read him the riot act , who is he kidding !

  9. allday420ap - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    Cooke is a real likeable guy these days

    • 950003cups - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:26 AM

      Why is that? Has he been a healthy scratch?

      • hockey412 - Oct 17, 2013 at 8:15 AM

        Lots of litter from you on this article – comes across as garbage.

  10. lonespeed - Oct 16, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    While I applaud Matt Cooke for trying to do the right thing, I would prefer to see someone with a little more credibility step-in. Where are leaders like Sean Avery when something like this happens?

    • hockeyflow33 - Oct 16, 2013 at 8:41 PM

      Castro Street or Key West?

  11. allday420ap - Oct 16, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    they can make some weed cookies

  12. anthj99 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    That’s like taking marriage advice from Kim Kardashian.

  13. joeyashwi - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    As a fan of the Wild I hated the Cooke signing. After watching him play the first small sample of games he is slowly becoming my favorite player on the team. His hustle is second to none. I almost wish he was a little more “bad” but I’m not complaining. He’s a guy you hate if he’s on another team but love if he’s on yours. Kudos to him for reaching out.

  14. blue21c - Oct 17, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Matt Cooke is a SCUMBAG!!!!!!!

  15. matt14gg - Oct 19, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    I think the final “come to jesus” moment for Cooke was in last year’s playoffs when he got suspended for a hit that, had it been by anyone else, was nothing more then a two minute boarding penalty. He realized that he was a marked man and he was hurting his team just by being on the ice. Cooke didn’t change because he wanted to, he changed because it was the only way he could continue to have a job in the NHL. Minnesota knew that signing him was risky, because he is treated differently by the league based on his reputation.

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