Wild's Cooke eager to rejoin the playoff fray

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 7, 2014 - 11:52 PM

His seven-game suspension served, the gritty forward is slated to play in Game 4.

Matt Cooke said he nearly developed an ulcer watching his team in the playoffs during his seven-game suspension.

Friday, the Wild winger expects to resume a more familiar role of causing that kind of anxiety.

The Wild’s Game 3 victory over Chicago on Tuesday marked the end of Cooke’s punishment for a knee-to-knee hit on Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie in the playoffs’ first round. He is eligible to return to the lineup Friday for Game 4 of the team’s second-round series against the Blackhawks. As the Wild enjoyed an off day Wednesday, Cooke skated at Xcel Energy Center, and coach Mike Yeo said he expects to reinsert Cooke into the lineup Friday as the Wild seeks to even the series at two games each.

The hit, and the suspension, marred Cooke’s three-year quest to rehabilitate his image and clean up his play. Barrie sustained a knee injury and sat out the rest of the series as the Avalanche fell to the Wild in seven games, while Cooke was suspended by the NHL for the sixth time in his career.

Cooke acknowledged that some people will view the incident as proof he has not changed. While he can’t alter that, he said, he trusts that the adjustments he has made in recent years will help him move past his latest transgression.

“People are entitled to their opinions,’’ said Cooke, who registered one assist and six penalty minutes in three playoff games before the suspension. “It’s not my job to go out and change peoples’ opinions. It’s my job to go out and play the way I can and be successful, helping my teammates win.

“Although this one situation happened, I still believe I’m in a good spot as far as the way I approach the game, to go out and play a physical style without being riskful. [The Barrie hit] is going to be in my head, but I’m a firm believer in the work I’ve put in to change my approach to the game to allow me to go out and have success.’’

Yeo said he has not decided who will come out of the Wild lineup to make room for Cooke, nor has he settled on line combinations. Cooke hopes to help the Wild on the penalty kill and use his experience and communication skills to keep the team’s emotions balanced amid the tension and tumult of the playoffs.

Though Yeo knows the hit and suspension could create some hesitation in Cooke’s game, he urged Cooke to concentrate on the tough yet legal style he used to good effect throughout the regular season. He is counting on him to play a specific role as a strong-checking forward who can go to the net and create offense while making things difficult for opponents.

“He’s got to play his game, and he’s got to play it with confidence,’’ Yeo said. “For the last several years, we’ve talked about how he’s changed. And for the most part, before [the Barrie hit], he had not had a charging or a boarding or anything like that. He’s been able to hit clean, and I’m sure he’ll be able to do the same thing.’’

Cooke thanked the Wild organization for standing by him throughout the suspension, saying it was “rewarding’’ to know it did not believe he had bad intentions. He was particularly grateful to his teammates for advancing to the second round, allowing him the opportunity to get back into these playoffs.

“The team has played great, but it’s tough to sit and watch,’’ he said. “I pride myself on being a guy who performs and has a game built for the playoffs.

“It’s the perfect scenario. Having to be up on this podium a week ago and not getting a chance to play again in the playoffs would have been a really hard thing for me.’’

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 98 4th Qtr 1:43
Boston 99
Philadelphia 66 4th Qtr 10:06
Indiana 77
Portland 87 4th Qtr 10:36
Sacramento 78
Charlotte 80 4th Qtr 6:12
Orlando 70
Oklahoma City 72 3rd Qtr 5:48
LA Lakers 61
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Denver
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 2nd Prd
Washington 1
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Dallas
St. Louis 8:30 PM
Vancouver
SMU 73 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 59 2nd Half 5:45
Wake Forest 53
Oregon 36 2nd Half
Stanford 30
Purdue 14 1st Half 7:56
Ohio State 17
Arizona State 7:30 PM
Colorado
Washington St 8:30 PM
UCLA
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
UMBC 73
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close