Matt Cooke's knee-on-knee hit could lead to seventh career suspension

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 22, 2014 - 3:25 PM

The controversial winger could face a suspension for kneeing the Avs’ Tyson Barrie, who will be out four to six weeks.

As he skated off the ice, limping from a knee-on-knee hit by the Wild’s Matt Cooke, Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie uttered two words: “I’m done.’’ Avalanche coach Patrick Roy had a few more to say about the incident after his team’s 1-0 overtime loss at Xcel Energy Center.

Roy called the hit “the play of the game,’’ but its impact will last beyond Monday night’s loss. Barrie, who led Colorado’s defensemen with 13 goals during the regular season, will be sidelined four to six weeks with a medial collateral ligament injury. He left the ice immediately after the hit, which happened at two minutes, two seconds of the second period, and his absence left the Avalanche short a defenseman for the rest of a hard-fought overtime game.

Cooke was assessed a two-minute penalty for kneeing, but late Monday night, the NHL offered to give him an in-person disciplinary hearing. That allows the league to give him a suspension exceeding five games. Cooke has the option of conducting the hearing via phone.

 

Despite Cooke’s history of league suspensions, he is not considered a repeat offender because his last NHL suspension occurred more than 18 months ago.

Cooke was not made available for comment after the game, and Wild coach Mike Yeo said he did not see the hit. Roy declined to say whether Cooke should get additional punishment, but he wasn’t shy in voicing his opinion about the importance of the collision.

“A knee on Tyson Barrie, without a doubt, that’s the play of the game,’’ Roy said. “We lost our best offensive defenseman, and I think it could have been a five-minute major. Plus, I think that would have broken [the Wild’s] momentum.

“I’m sure the league will make the right call. We’re very confident they will make the right call.’’

Cooke has continued his efforts to rehabilitate a once-shady reputation during his first season with the Wild. Cooke led the team in hits during the regular season and tops the Wild with 18 hits in the playoffs, including a game-high six Monday.

He has been suspended by the league six times in his career, missing 25 regular-season games and seven in the playoffs. His last punishment was his longest. In March 2011, when he was playing for Pittsburgh, the NHL suspended Cooke for the final 10 games of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs after he elbowed the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh in the head.

After that suspension, which totaled 17 games, Cooke vowed to change his ways. He since has been involved in some fierce hits that caused debate, but he has not been suspended since.

Barrie’s loss leaves a significant hole in the Colorado lineup. He led his team’s defensemen with 13 goals, the most by an Avalanche defenseman since 2006-07, and also had 25 assists during the regular season. He scored five game-winning goals this season and has four career game-winners in overtime, the most by any defenseman in franchise history.

Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon said Barrie’s absence will sting, but he expects his team to adjust rather than seek revenge.

“It hurts,’’ he said. “We can’t replace a guy like that, but the whole season, we’ve been losing guys and we have to bounce back from that.

“We’ve got some warriors on this team. We’ll have to be pretty resilient and use our depth to our advantage.’’

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