Cooke knows because of his previous indiscretions, it’s impossible to change everybody’s opinion. He’ll have to continue to keep it clean; every shift all eyes are on him. He learned that last season when he was accused of intentionally slicing Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson’s Achilles’ tendon with his skate.
“That’s asinine to think anyone can time that and be that precise with your skate and be that malicious, too,” Orpik said. “That’s not who he is.”
Shero said, “Matt Cooke has changed, and it didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of hard work. You won’t get a lot of sympathizers for Matt Cooke, but if you know the person, what he does to give back to the community and see what he’s been through personally and professionally, this is a great story. It’s amazing where he’s come in two years.”
Changing an image
Cooke, who is missing a tooth courtesy of the Los Angeles Kings’ Dustin Brown in 2006, says the biggest misconception about him is that he’s a mean guy.
“People meet me, and then go Google me, and I’ll see them again, and they’ll be like, ‘Woah, there’s not very nice things said about you,’ ” Cooke said, laughing. “I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, probably should have warned you.’ ”
Cooke doesn’t make excuses. He says the hardest thing is when his kids are told that their dad’s some kind of monster, a cheap-shot artist.
He’s trying to change that image. He’s devoted to his faith now, to being a good husband and dad. He sprinted out of Sunday’s scrimmage because his 9-year-old son, a budding baseball player, had a game.
Even though the Wild gave him permission to wear Derek Boogaard’s No. 24 — he’ll debut in a Wild sweater in Tuesday’s exhibition game against Columbus — he contacted Boogaard’s family first to get their blessing.
“My game on the ice is not me as a person, it’s not me in the community, it’s not me as a father,” Cooke said. “At the end of the day, this is my job. And it’s a great job, and I wouldn’t want any other one.
“But at some point, it’s going to end and I’m still going to be young when it ends. All the perks that happened quickly go away and what you have at the end of that is your family. That’s what matters most to me.”