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Cooke to play 1,000th game tomorrow

Mar 10, 2014, 2:37 PM EDT

ST. PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 10: Matt Cooke #24 of the Minnesota Wild is congratulated by teammate Dany Heatley #15 after scoring a goal during the game against the Winnipeg Jets on October 10, 2013 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

Minnesota forward Matt Cooke will play in his 1,000th career NHL contest on Tuesday when the Wild host the Oilers at Xcel. For one of the most polarizing players in the last decade, the achievement will likely be met with mixed responses.

First, the positive. Playing in 1,000 career contests is no small feat, as fewer than 300 players have accomplished it in NHL history. Cooke’s done it playing for four different teams (Vancouver, Washington, Pittsburgh and Minnesota) and has to be credited with reinventing himself following a rash of disciplinary issues, which included scoring a career-high 19 goals with Pittsburgh during the 2011-12 campaign — when he was 33 years old.

Of course, many have difficulty separating Cooke’s accomplishments from the incidents that marred his career.

He essentially ended Marc Savard‘s playing days with a blindside hit in 2010, an incident that still resonates with the Bruins. The Savard incident failed to change Cooke, though — during the 2010-11 season, Cooke became the league’s poster boy for dirty play with a pair of suspensions for ugly hits, the final straw coming with an elbow to the head of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, which saw Cooke get suspended for 10 regular season games and the entire opening playoff round.

That was the culmination of a span in which Cooke was suspended five times, four of which were for hits to the head.

As mentioned above, the McDonagh suspension did change things for Cooke, and he deserves credit for acknowledging the problems with his game, fixing them, and managing to thrive as one of the league’s older players (Cooke turned 35 in September.) He has 24 points in 64 games for the Wild this season while averaging close to 16 minutes per night.

According to the Wild, Cooke will be honored during a pregame ceremony on Tuesday, with the Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo adding additional detail…

  1. qauzaq - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    I’m sorry but I can’t be happy for this guy. Changed or not, he ended somebody’s career. He shouldn’t be in the league.

    • c9castine - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:53 PM

      Give me a break Scott Stevens ended a lot of careers and he’s a legendary hall of famer

    • hockey412 - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      No, he really didn’t. At least (or at most, depending on how you look at it) the writer above had the grace to say “essentially” ended someone’s career.

    • porkchopexpress1969 - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      This is the correct answer. Dude is a POS of crap. Period.

  2. gret9 - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    POS tried to blow out Val Nichushkin’s knee this past weekend.

    • alicesrightfootesq - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      Seriously, why wasn’t this a story? It was blatant knee-to-knee hit and the only reason we aren’t hearing about it is because Nischushkin wasn’t seriously injured.

      • bwayblueshirt - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:30 PM

        Hey, always go back to basics. This is how he started his career, and I’m still hopeful that this is why the league will end it.

      • guitarhunterdude - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:18 PM

        Yeah, I thought this was far worse than the Lehtonen mishap. Cooke is a scumbag, whether he’s cleaned up his act or not. Really wish he wasn’t on the Wild.

  3. lonespeed - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    I hope he gets the stomach flu.

  4. c9castine - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    How about congratulations on a good nhl career to a good man and teammate. And you’ll play many more.

  5. lowenni - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    The guy’s cleaned up his act. I wouldn’t say I respect him now because what he did in the past is still pretty bad and just downright unexcusable, but I do admire his effort to change the way he plays the game, and how he offered to help Patrick Kaleta change. He’s a very effective player now, great penalty killer. Hope some of the other goons and dirty players in this league can at least follow his example going forward.

    • porkchopexpress1969 - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      See Video above, he toned it down. didnt clean up his act. POS player.

  6. 7mantel - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Shame on the NHL and the WILD for honoring cooke (he doesn’t deserve cap letters)

    • joey4id - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      C’mon Mickey. Were you not honored by the pinstripe organization despite your many failings?

      • 7mantel - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:07 PM

        Not even close Joey !

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:19 PM

        Sorry, comparison fail. Mantle harmed only himself (though perhaps by extension, also his team), while Cooke has seriously harmed opposing players.

      • joey4id - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:37 PM

        I think you have to look beyond what a man does on the field/ice before he is honored. His team, wife, and children were all affected negatively by his drinking and womanizing. He failed as a player, husband, and father.

      • 7mantel - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:58 PM

        nice try joe but it’s a fail on your part ! Hypocritical on your part to defend a hockey player who for most of his career went out of way to injure , then you cry about two willing players fighting !

      • joey4id - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:04 PM

        No. No. I’m not defending Cooke at all. I’m drawing a parallel between bad and bad. Who did Pete Rose hurt? The point is we need to look beyond the game before we honor these guys. Many of them are not the best example for the kids anyway. Yet! We love to put them on the pedestal. Why? Do, lets not twist this into what it is not.

      • 7mantel - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:12 PM

        I didn’t say anything about cookes off ice actions only his play on the ice ! You my young fan tried to twist this into something else !

      • joey4id - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        On the fighting… If you can use the argument “willing players fighting”, why not apply it to players who are willing participants in a contact sport played in a confined environment when you know collisions will happen, and players will get hurt. I think accepting punches to the head and not accepting injuries from collisions is hypocritical. The NHL has rules and uses them to assess supplemental discipline. The NHL has dealt with Cooke’s every indiscretions. Again, I’m not defending Cooke, or Bertuzzi, or McSorely. Just calling it has it is.

      • joey4id - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:18 PM

        About your suggestion that I am a hypocrite I will add that fighting is not a hockey play, where a checking is. You really can’t compare them. If you want to compare fighting to a similar non hockey play, then compare it to the Nolan cheap shot. Both are not hockey plays and are shots to the head.

  7. hosewater2 - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Great penalty killer, forechecker, some offensive ability. Then he went to Pittsburgh and did all that dirty stuff, must be the dirty water and air in the Rust Belt. Congrats Matt, respect.

    • hockey412 - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      Haha I think your facts are a bit scewed, senior. But, certainly not worth arguing. Most likely pointless as well. I’m going to go back to talking to my wall.

      • thailer35 - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:55 PM

        Ask that wall how to spell skewed.

      • hockey412 - Mar 11, 2014 at 8:25 AM

        fair enough, thanks for the correction, oh captain my captain :)

  8. rushledger - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    He ended his career? He did an awful thing to him but lets not forget…..

    1. He had previous concussions
    2. The bruins medical staff clearly failed him by letting him back way too early in the 2nd round in 2010
    3. He was shut down after admiring he came back early
    4. He likely came back early again in 2010-11 season also
    5. Proof is he got concussed off a fairly basic hit

    Not saying Cooke wasn’t wrong in what he did because he was, but to solely blame Savards career ending on him is grossly unfair.

    • c9castine - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      I’ve been saying how the bruins organization tends to minimize concussions for years nobody thinks it’s a big deal. They are lucky with Bergeron I can’t believe with what he’s been through he has kept his head healthy for a while now.

      They use the word “mild” far to often which to me indicates mild denial of the severity of the injury. But they totally messed up with Savard to the Point where they guy felt he couldn’t even play anymore.

    • hosewater2 - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      This folks is an intelligent response.

  9. penguins87and71 - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    I have a lot respect for this guy. He changed his ways, and his turned out to be a pretty good hockey player.

  10. pfhockey - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    Cooke is terrible and will never get my respect.

    • hockey412 - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      I’m sure he’s upset about it, too.

      • hosewater2 - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:13 PM

        At least half the guys getting hit in those clips are French or Russian.

  11. puckmepuckyou - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Maybe someone will get him something special to honor the occasion like a nice concussion of his own. What a d-bag!

  12. runhigh24 - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    It appears that Matt Cooke Derangement Syndrome is at peak levels.

  13. yetidad - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    This is like discussing redheads and the political religious right. Ain’t never gonna be any agreement on the subject. That being said, I respect his honest recognition of his past faults and he then made a change in his approach to the game. A true D’bag wouldn’t have cared to change and would have gotten himself run out of the league. By all accounts he is well-liked in the locker room and he has comported himself well in Minnesota. I say give him credit for a long and mostly successful career so far.

  14. btlpper68 - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    Eugene MELNYK sending him a nice gift?

  15. alicesrightfootesq - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    Oh, what a changed man!

    • c9castine - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      He was basically standing still and nichuskin tried to go around him and didn’t quite make it.

      • mgp1219 - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:11 PM

        He skated/leaned directly into Nichuskin’s knee, you dolt.

      • c9castine - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:41 PM

        Dolt? Haha…ok

  16. mgp1219 - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    He is far from a “changed man”. He is better, for sure, but he is still a dirty d-bag. The only reason he has changed at all is because he had to. The league was not going to put up with it any longer. Why do you think pittsburgh got rid of him? I hope someone hits him with the same type of dirty shot that he has delivered in the past and keeps delivering to this day. just because he isn’t going head hunting anymore does not mean he has cleaned up his act. taking other players out at the knees is pretty egregious, too.

    F**k matt cooke!

  17. ash0war - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    Yay! Love Cooke! Misses him in Pitt wish he would of gotten this as a penguin :)

  18. hennessey1200hp - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    Remember this guy….hey cleaned his act when asked to

    • storminator16 - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:20 PM

      LOL, don’t get us started on that. For those of us who remember THAT Todd Bertuzzi and not this guy in Detroit who is a shadow of that guy, Matt Cooke and Todd Bertuzzi can both rot in penalty box hell.

    • storminator16 - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:22 PM

      Plus, the guy cleaned up his act because he is still in legal litigation hell, not because he wanted to. He needed to.

  19. nicofthenorthstar - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    Proof that dirt ball goons can change their game and become respectable hockey players. If you’re will to forgive him his past indiscretions, Cooke has to be recognized as a scrappy, two-way forward who excels around the net and in his own zone. Willing to pay the price for the good of the team, Cooke is special on the PK and gives top forwards in the league fits with his tenacious, relentless defensive play.
    I cringed and cursed when my team signed him. I’ve changes my tune. Hope he retires a member of the Wild. Congrats Cooke.

  20. storminator16 - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:24 PM

    Don’t get the Matt Cooke love festival by some people here. Don’t. Get. It. He was doing stupid crap way before he gave Marc Savard headaches.

    • c9castine - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:06 PM

      Get. Over. It. Good hockey player. It’s a sport where that stuff was the norm for a long time. Took some time but he adapted with it. Move on with your life. You. Can. Do. It.

      • storminator16 - Mar 11, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        You get over yourself. He is a good hockey player? When he plays hockey, yes. When he is doing other crap, you just can’t whipe that slate clean because he is a good hockey player. “Mort killed a man, but he is a good guy. Get. Over. It.” I hate comparisons, but that’s how dumb your reply was.

      • c9castine - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:18 AM

        Well, you just tried to say Matt Cooke kills people.

      • storminator16 - Mar 11, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        “It’s a sport where that stuff was the norm for a long time. Took some time but he adapted with it.”

        I don’t have time for the history lesson to batch smack you on that one. That is what really pisses me off is that some of you think the crap that happened mid ’90s to the mid ’00s was normal. Is was horse crap and the league was horse crap for letting it get that far.

      • c9castine - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:22 AM

        It happened longer than that. A team won Stanley cups in the 70s doing it. It was normal, by definition. Stop crying your not going to convince me to see it your way by acting like a know it all.

      • storminator16 - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:02 PM

        I’m not crying. Stop being a butt pirate defending your boyfriend.

      • c9castine - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:04 PM

        Wow. New low here on PHT. For what it’s worth though my wife though that was pretty funny.

      • storminator16 - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        Let’s stick to Matt Cooke, pre-Savard. Constantly ran people from behind, ran defenseless players, didn’t answer to some of his recklessness. In the 70s they played a tough game yet they kept each other accountable. Cooke only got away with he did because the NHL allowed these so-called “pests” to become integral and recklessness equated to “putting butts in the seats”. Don’t compare eras if you don’t know what you are talking about.

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