Matt Cooke 'disappointed, sorry'

ByPierre LeBrun ESPN logo
Thursday, April 24, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Suspended Minnesota winger Matt Cooke apologized Thursday for a knee-to-knee hit that injured Colorado's Tyson Barrie during Monday's Game 3 of the teams' first-round playoff series.

"First and foremost, I want to say that I'm disappointed and sorry that Tyson Barrie can't play for the Colorado Avalanche tonight," said Cooke, who addressed the media after the morning skate. "I wish that he could. It was not my intent to collide with him knee on knee. It was my intent to finish my check. The playoffs are a hard and physical time, and it's my job to be physical. I've led my team in hits in all three games. And it's an intense time.

"Since March 20, 2011, I've been a changed player. I've approached the game differently, I think differently about the game. The stats that I've collected over those three seasons proved that I'm a changed player. And the plays that I make and the plays that I don't make prove that point as well. At the end of the day, this situation was not my intent."

And with that, Cooke left without taking questions. He didn't say whether he would appeal his seven-game suspension.

Cooke has until Friday night to decide.

This is Cooke's sixth career suspension for various safety violations, bringing his total of games banned to 34, including playoffs. He has also been fined four times. This was his first suspension in more than three years, since that elbow to the head in 2011 at New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh which got him banned for the final 10 regular-season games and the first round of the playoffs that year.

Down the hall in the visitors' dressing room, Avalanche players were told of Cooke's comments.

"I don't know Cooke personally, but I'm sure he didn't go into the hit and think, 'I'm going to take this guy's MCL out,'" Avs captain Gabe Landeskog said. "But to some extent, you have to learn from your past experiences, and I feel like he's had enough experiences that he should be smarter and make smarter decisions."

Veteran forward Max Talbot was a teammate of Cooke's with Pittsburgh.

"He's obviously a very effective player. He hasn't played 1,000 games in this league for nothing," Talbot told "Did he mean to hurt him or not? Only he knows. I think you could see in his face [when] he saw the result; he looked in the air and he kind of knew.

"I've played with Matt. I'm sure he doesn't like to hurt guys, but he's a thick guy [physically], a guy with a lot of speed. Yes, he can be dangerous out there. He's been better lately. You got to give him credit for that. But there's still a result here that we're losing Tyson Barrie for four to six weeks. For us, it's obviously frustrating."

Avs coach Patrick Roy said the suspension doesn't solve his team's biggest issue: that it's without Barrie.

"We were confident that the league would make the right call," Roy said. "It doesn't matter the number of games; it doesn't replace Tyson Barrie. We want to see Tyson on the ice tonight. Regardless of the decision of the league, we cannot win this one."

Roy also said the league needs to come down hard on hits like Moore's on Barrie, regardless of it being the playoffs.

"I think in the playoffs we should be more strict," Roy said. "We should not consider: 'Oh, you're in the playoffs, two games in the playoffs equals four games in the regular season.' I think we have to take that out of the equation now and really make the right call."

Asked whether he felt Cooke's suspension wasn't long enough, Roy said he wasn't saying that and was just speaking generally of suspensions in the playoffs.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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