Blog Entry

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways

Posted on: August 23, 2011 10:54 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 11:32 pm

By: Adam Gretz

If you're a fan of one of the 29 NHL teams that Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke doesn't play for there is a pretty good chance you dislike the way he plays the game of hockey.

The easiest way to describe his role is as one of the NHL's top agitators. He's paid to get under the skin of opponents and get them off their game playing a physical, in-your-face brand of hockey. Along with that, his style of play, and numerous run-ins with the NHL's disciplinary board, has resulted in him being suspended multiple times over the past couple of seasons, including twice last season.

The second suspension cost him the final 10 games of the regular season and all seven of Pittsburgh's playoff games following a hit on New York's Ryan McDonagh. It was a play that not only helped swing the momentum of that game, but also put a dent in the Penguins lineup for the remainder of the season.

All of that has added to his reputation, and seemingly made his name synomonus with "dirty" play in the eyes of many fans and observers.

Cooke has promised to change the way he plays the game, as he explained to John Hartstock of the Altoona Mirror on Monday night during an appearance at a minor league baseball game in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

From the Mirror:
"It's a mentality, it's how I'm going to approach the game,'' Cooke said of his plan to clean up his act. "And the team has worked hard in supporting me to accomplish these minor tweaks in my game.''
Cooke tends to be viewed as a player that needs to play the game on the edge, which is part of what makes him so effective in his role -- but that doesn't excuse some of the plays he's been involved in, including the aforementioned one on McDonagh. Because they're not neccessary for him to do his job.

Here's the thing about Cooke: all of the controversy that surrounds him on the ice (all of which he has brought on himself, of course) overshadows the fact that he really is good hockey player -- one that 29 other NHL teams would probably love to have patrolling their third line -- that doesn't need to be involved in such nonsense to be a valuable player. He's an excellent penalty killer (one of Pittsburgh's best), and possesses enough offensive ability to chip in between 10 and 15 goals every season. 

The other stuff doesn't add to his game, it takes away from it, and cleaning up his act will not only be good for the rest of the league and the Penguins, it will be good for him, too. So let's hope he's not only serious about changing the way he plays, but actually follows through with it.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 4:33 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Feb 20, 2007
Posted on: August 28, 2011 10:31 am

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways

And of course Avery who could never possibly back-up up his antics and risk marring his pretty face. can't always hide:

Here you see Avery trying to agitate a rookie. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't realize Michael Haley is on the ice.

Hopefully Haley can get a piece of Cooke this season too. He's already handeled Talbot. 

Since: Feb 20, 2007
Posted on: August 28, 2011 10:25 am

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways

I'd like to throw Dale Hunter in there as well. If only because I'm an Isles fan.

Since: Aug 14, 2011
Posted on: August 27, 2011 7:53 pm

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways

Cooke knew heading into that game that he needed to fight a Bruin because of what he did. If you want to criticize him for his dirty play then that's fine but he never turtled from Thornton nor did he back away.

Since: Dec 2, 2008
Posted on: August 27, 2011 7:32 pm

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways

I went to the first game he played against the Bruins after he hit Savard with the elbow.  When Thorton challenged him to a fight he backed away.  Thorton took off his helmet and pointed to Cooke then his head for him to take off his.  Cooke refuse and then proceeded to turtle after Thorton got ahold of him.  There's a different between agitators that gain respect as they are not afraid to answer the bell when called upon and then there are guys like Cooke, Ulf Samuelson (also a penguin player) and Claude Lemeiux.  I have no respect for players that go after knees and heads in attempt to end guys careers.  Cooke is a goon and what does his personal life have to do with hockey.  If you read a Pittsburgh news article about Cooke his wife was in the hospital so he had to take care of the kids instead of taking a game day nap.  Boo freakin hoo, I can't remember the last time I got to take a nap in the middle of the work day and I have to take care of my kid when I get home and my wife does it all day long with no break until I get home.  (With no disrespect to his wife) People go to work everyday in this country with bigger problems than a millionaire hockey player having to watch his kids and you don't see them elbowing a coworker in the head from behind.  He can make excuses and the Penguins can cover up how much of an @$$ this guy is, but he will never get respect or deserve any respect from anyone who knows anything about hockey.  His next suspension which I guess will be about four or five games into the season should be for 34 games to prove a point.  His last suspension was for 17 games I say each time it should be doubled.  Next time after that 64 and so on.  He would essentially end his own career from a cheap shot.

Since: Mar 1, 2008
Posted on: August 27, 2011 11:17 am

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways

Matt Cooke has no choice but to change the way he plays hockey. It's one thing to drop the gloves and square off as an enforcer - every team has at least one - but when the league is making rule changes because of one player, it's time to buck up. If he keeps up the way he is, he'll be suspended more often than not, and good luck landing a new contract when the current one is up. He's a black eye on an otherwise classy organization.

Since: Aug 14, 2011
Posted on: August 26, 2011 10:17 pm

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways

Unfortunately Cooke gives the Penguins organziation a bad name. He continues to be a dirty player and I'm not sure if it will ever get throug in his head that he doesn't need to do that crap to be a good agitator. He is an excellent penalty killer and a solid third liner who just hurts the team when he gets foolish penalties and suspensions. Losing him in the playoffs was one of the factors the Pens lost the series to TB. I really hope that he pulls his head out of his butt and thinks of the team first and not target players. The Pens need him on the ice not off of it. He is going to be under the microscope now. Lets see if his actions matches what he is saying.

Since: May 12, 2011
Posted on: August 26, 2011 9:17 pm

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways

everything about the pens is lame... including this guy

Since: Feb 2, 2009
Posted on: August 26, 2011 4:14 pm

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways

Matt Cooke is an with it! As for all you dickholes that bash Mario Lemieux...I hope you burn in hell!

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: August 26, 2011 4:04 pm

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways

Matt Cooke is a thug and a punk and always will be, sorry.  Guys like him never change.  And I don't think his pure hockey skills are even that good.  Heck, he was not great when he was with us.  The less guys like him in the league, the better it will be.

Actually I would take his hockey skills on my team any day.  In my opinion he's a solid 3rd line player on most teams an an excellent penalty killer to say the least.  He can also be a pretty gritty player and off the ice I hear he's a great guy.  The problem here is there is something wrong with the guy because it seems like every 10 or 15 games he tries to destroy a player on the opposing team.  Don't know why.... and to be honest the more I think about it the less I care about why he does it.  The bottom line is he either has to completely stop doing these things for the rest of his career or get booted out of the league. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or