Wild left wing Matt Cooke, who played two third-period shifts totaling 33 seconds Sunday in Vancouver, won’t play tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks and potentially a “longer period of time,” coach Mike Yeo said.
I’m hearing via sources that the veteran will likely need season-ending surgery. If you do the math and connect the dots, Cooke has been playing with a sports hernia.
Yeo called it a lower-body injury today. I’m certain this has nothing to do with the Rob Klinkhammer kneeing in Edmonton last Tuesday that left Cooke with a charleyhorse.
Cooke missed 22 games from Oct. 30-Dec. 17 with a hip flexor. He was injured the second game of the season at Colorado and played with the injury the next six games in agony. As it turns out, Cooke told me in December this was no normal hip flexor injury. He had three torn muscles, including the Psoas Major, which attaches to the femur, and two other supporting hip flexor muscles.
Yeo said Tuesday “this is something different than what has been bothering him. It hasn’t gone away and he’s been battling through it. Quite often with these things, this might be something as a result of compensating for the other injury, too. I’m not sure. But he’s been trying to battle through it.”
Like I said, connect the dots. Compensating for a hip injury often leads to some sort of abdominal issue. It’s been clear by watching Cooke that his skating has been affected and he hasn’t been as physical.
Yeo said Cooke has a doctor’s appointment and he will update at a later time with further details.
Typically, the sports hernia surgeries are conducted at specialists in St. Louis or Philadelphia. Niklas Backstrom had his two core muscle surgeries done at the latter.
In 27 games, Cooke has four goals and four assists with 13 penalty minutes. Last season, Cooke played all 82 games and led the team in hits, scored 10 goals, 18 assists and was plus-8.
Cooke has one more year left on his contract at $2.5 million.
This hurts the Wild from a physicality and penalty-killing standpoint, so we’ll see if General Manager Chuck Fletcher looks for some kind of depth forward or continues to go with what he’s got here and in the minors. The trade deadline is March 2.
For at least the short-term, the Wild placed Justin Fontaine (groin) on injured reserve and recalled Jordan Schroeder to play tonight. Schroeder is scoreless in three games for the Wild but Jan. 8 had seven shots in 9 minutes, 49 seconds of ice time also against Chicago playing on an all-Gophers line with Erik Haula and Thomas Vanek.
He’ll play on a line tonight with Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter and Yeo is intrigued by the line’s possibilities with a pure speed guy playing with two big power-forward types.
“He’s done a good job for us the couple games that he’s played,” Yeo said of Schroeder. “Counting on him to come in right now and provide some minutes for us, provide some energy. I want to see his speed be a factor. I think he’s done a good job of finding open ice and getting some pucks through to the net.”
Yeo said Fontaine is feeling better. The Wild won’t practice Wednesday, but perhaps after two days of practice, he can come off injured reserve and play Saturday against the Avalanche.
With Cooke out, Ryan Carter moves to the Erik Haula-Kyle Brodziak line.
Christian Folin will be a healthy scratch for a third consecutive game.
Devan Dubnyk vs. Corey Crawford tonight. Daniel Carcillo is eligible to return from suspension today, but he didn’t skate in regular line rushes at the skate. The Blackhawks, by the way, went to Vegas for the Super Bowl and on Monday, so we’ll find out tonight if their type of weariness offsets the typical first-game-after-a-long-road-trip weariness that the Wild could have.
Big game for the Wild tonight to keep its 3-0 Western Canadian momentum going at home, where the Wild has stunk the past two months. Also, with no games until Saturday, the Wild could surely use two points to make up for the no points it’ll be getting while sitting idle and others play.
I’ll be filling in for Paul Allen on KFAN from 9-12 both Wednesday and Thursday, so please tune in to that and call in as well.