Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Matt Cooke faces suspension, offered in-person hearing with NHL

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: April 21, 2014 - 11:41 PM

Wild left wing Matt Cooke will likely not play again in this first-round matchup with the Colorado Avalanche.

The veteran left wing, who signed a three-year contract with the Wild last July, has been offered an in-person hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety after a knee-on-knee hit tonight that injured Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie.

That allows the NHL to issue a suspension that exceeds five games if it so wishes. Cooke can decline the invitation and have a phone hearing.

Barrie, the dynamic free-wheeler who led Colorado blue-liners with 13 goals in the regular season, is expected to miss four to six weeks with an injury to his left medial collateral ligament, Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said.

Cooke was assessed a two-minute minor for kneeing 2:02 into the second period of tonight's 1-0 overtime win over the Avs. Barrie, in pain, got up and said, "I'm done," according to TSN analyst Ray Ferraro, who was broadcasting between the benches.

The Wild killed off Cooke's penalty -- the first of three second-period minors -- before Mikael Granlund broke a scoreless tie in OT with his first career playoff goal.

“A knee on Tyson Barrie, without a doubt, that’s the play of the game,’’ Roy said after the game. “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 was unavailable for comment. Cooke, who has suspended six times for a total of 25 games, has not been suspended since March 2011. He is not considered a repeat offender by NHL standards, but it's very clear with some of the kneeings this season and in this postseason, the Matt Cooke factor is in full effect.

Cooke has worked hard behind the scenes to "clean up his act" through video work and other means. Here's a feature I wrote on Cooke back in September. He has shown all season a tendency to err on the side of caution anytime there's a chance for a potential close call. He was having a terrific series to this point, and tonight he led the Wild with six of its 33 hits.

The incident in question is below. (Barrie is a great guy, by the way. He used to be a member of the Coral Springs Coyotes at Incredible Ice when he was a kid. I covered his dad, Len Barrie, on the Florida Panthers, and after the season, I used to watch playoff hockey with Barrie, then-Panthers play-by-play guy Jeff Rimer and an 11-year-old kid named, ... Tyson Barrie. I interviewed Barrie for awhile Saturday and was actually planning on writing a story on him for Wednesday's paper. That story likely won't see the light of day now.

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