Wild notes: Cooke facing long suspension
- Article by: Michael Russo
- Star Tribune
- April 23, 2014 - 7:23 AM
Matt Cooke has been summoned to NHL headquarters in New York on Wednesday for a hearing stemming from the Wild winger’s knee-on-knee hit that injured Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game 3.
Barrie sustained an injury to his left medial collateral. Cooke was assessed a two-minute minor for kneeing.
Cooke, who has a history of suspensions, the last a 17-gamer for elbowing the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh in 2011, potentially faces another long one. Any player offered an in-person hearing can receive a suspension exceeding five games.
Cooke, who declined to comment Tuesday, will be joined by Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher, agent Pat Morris and an NHL Players’ Association representative.
“We all want to play good, physical, intense hockey,” coach Mike Yeo said. “At the same time, I know that they want to do the same to us. Neither side wants to see anyone get hurt. Obviously, on our part, we don’t want to see one of our players get suspended. Obviously, I’m not going to be sitting here and saying we’re in a great mood about any of that.”
At the minimum, Cooke likely won’t play the rest of the first round. The veteran was part of a line with rookies Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine that slowed down the Avs’ intimidating first line of Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny and Nathan MacKinnon. After 13 points in Games 1 and 2, the three players had seven shots in Monday’s 1-0 overtime loss.
Cooke was having a strong series. In three games, he had an assist, is tied for third in the NHL with 18 hits and was a big part of the Wild’s 10-for-11 penalty kill.
Yeo said the Wild will decide Wednesday which player slides into Cooke’s spot. Nino Niederreiter and Stephane Veilleux are the likeliest candidates. Veteran checking center Kyle Brodziak was also scratched for the first time in his Wild career Monday.
“We have other guys that are capable of filling that void,” Yeo said. “This is a tough loss for us, but I know that’s a tough loss for them and I’m sure they’re not going to sit around and feel sorry for themselves. They’re going to try to find guys that can fill the void. That’s been a team that’s been able to overcome injuries this year, and we’ve been a team that’s been able to overcome injuries, and that’s part of what the playoffs is about, dealing with different types of adversities that come your way. So that’s the challenge.”
Rookie Darcy Kuemper will get Thursday’s start after making 22 saves in Game 3. He became the second goaltender in NHL history to post a 1-0 overtime victory in his first postseason start (Detroit’s Normie Smith in 1936).
“I’m confident right now,” Kuemper said after Monday’s game. “It doesn’t matter if I’m getting a ton of shots, I’m comfortable even if I’m not feeling it a whole lot. The way the team played in front of me made it easy.”
Earlier this season, Kuemper, in a similar one-sided game by the Wild, allowed three goals on seven shots in 32 minutes during a loss at Toronto — Kuemper’s first start of the season.
“He’s in a different place now than that,” Yeo said. “The difference is when we put him into this game [Monday], we knew he was ready.”
• With AHL Iowa’s season over, the Wild recalled forwards Raphael Bussieres, Jake Dowell, Tyler Graovac, Carson McMillan and Zack Phillips; defensemen Steve Kampfer and Jon Landry, and goaltender Johan Gustafsson. The eight players will practice separately from the Wild, but can provide depth in case of injury.
• Monday night’s game was the second-highest-rated Wild game on Fox Sports North. It had a 9.6 rating (17,280 households represents one rating point) for an audience of more than 165,800 households.
The highest-rated Wild game on FSN was a 10.1 in last year’s playoff Game 1 at Chicago.
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