Apr 21, 2014; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Colorado Avalanche forward Cody McLeod (55) talks with Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke (24) during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Avs Beat Writer Goes Too Far in Dressing Down of Wild's Matt Cooke

Aside from team reluctance to issue press passes, there are very few negative aspects of being a hockey blogger. You have the opportunity to write about what you’re passionate about and, in a lot of cases, actually get paid to sit and watch hockey. How cool is that! But one of the best things is that, in a world that still condescends to many sports bloggers as if they were little kids playing house, you have a little more journalistic freedom in your writing. Not to say we’re any lower than the media platform many sports teams and traditional media formats expect, but that’s always in the back of their minds even if they’re afraid to admit it.

Last night, Denver Post Colorado Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater stooped to “our level”–perhaps lower–in his thorough dressing down of the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Cooke. Here’s some of what he had to say:

The one thing I can’t stand in life, and what 99.9 percent of you can’t stand either, is an unfair fight. Matt Cooke has only had the guts to fight fair a couple times in his NHL career, and he always got creamed in those situations. One of them was in a face-to-face fight with Steve Moore in 2004, and the Harvard boy Moore whupped him good. It was then left to Cooke’s teammate, Todd Bertuzzi, to cheap shot the end of Moore’s career with the Avs. Cooke is still in the NHL, though (as is Bertuzzi), which only goes to prove that bad guys finish, if not first, with long careers in the NHL.

I feel sorry for a bunch of people tonight. I feel sorry for Tyson Barrie, who just tries to play the game the right way, in having his season ended tonight on a knee-on-knee hit from Cooke. Patrick Roy said it’s 4-6 weeks for Barrie with an MCL injury, but from what I heard later that’s the optimistic view.

I feel sorry for Barrie because he’s just a kid who wanted to have a hockey game decided on a meritocracy. He’s a young, skilled, exciting player, but his season is probably over because of a dirty hit from a cowardly player.

I also feel sorry for many in my media profession, who wrote glowing profiles of Matt Cooke, the “reformed criminal.” It was all a coordinated PR plan by Cooke and his handlers, and the smart media people I know saw right through it, but many others were duped. I give Minneapolis Star-Tribune writer Jim Souhan huge props, for seeing through the Cooke con job from the start.

I feel sorry for the cuckolded Wild PR staff, who never made Cooke available tonight (probably on orders of management, but a media relations staff that gets it wouldn’t put up with that garbage) to be accountable for his night. Hockey is all about “accountability” right?

I feel sorry for the NHL, which has to put up with many “Matt Cooke Strikes Again” headlines Tuesday, instead of ones about honor of the sport and the genuine excitement of the playoffs.

I feel sorry for Matt Cooke himself. In a year or two, max, he’ll be out of the league. He’ll have no more money coming in, and he’ll have to sit and really look at what his career was all about. He’ll realize he had no respect of anybody in the game, and that will include his teammates – which will hurt the most. He’ll be filled with an old age of regret, a career of selling his hockey soul to the hockey devil. He’ll realize it wasn’t worth it, but by then it’ll be too late.

He then goes on to placate and not appear “homer-ish” with an appeal to the Wild players after their outstanding effort in the team’s hardest fought fight of the season in capturing a win in Game Three. Of course, he can’t do it without the obligatory backhanded compliment.

I most feel sorry for the other Wild players who are Cooke’s teammates. They played a tremendous game tonight. They absolutely were the better team and the right team won tonight. The Avs only had any chance at all because of Semyon Varlamov, period. 

But the night’s story – and the story that will follow for the next day or two – will be about Matt Cooke. Wild players, along with their personality-challenged coach Mike Yeo – will have to answer awkward questions about Cooke and his dirty knee on Barrie. They’ll have to answer as to how they now have to play without Cooke for a few games, at minimum, because of his looming suspension. A great game played by the Wild has now been overshadowed by Matt Cooke.

He ends his rant with this lovely bit:

It’ll come around on the Wild at some point. One of their top guys will be taken out by someone. Suddenly, Mike Yeo will have very good vision again.

Alright, cut the crap. Yes, Cooke hasn’t been the league’s most upstanding citizen in his career. Yes, he’s made more than his fair share of mistakes. However, if you look at last night’s game, not to mention the way he’s played this season, Cooke has been nothing short of a leader for this Wild squad. 

In 82 games this season, Cooke had 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points, a plus-8 rating and 54 penalty minutes while spending each game shutting down the best lines and players the league can assemble. That’s an average of one two-minute minor per every three games. Amongst Minnesota Wild players this season, Clayton Stoner, Kyle Brodziak, Nate Prosser and Zenon Konopka all had more. Yet where is all the outrage over them? Oh wait–that’s right–they’re not Matt Cooke, so they automatically get a free pass. This league, and many of the narrow-minded writers within it, are enough to drive a sane person mad.

What’s even worse, upon further review of the play, Cooke was going in for a shoulder-on-shoulder when Barrie thought he could outmaneuver the Wild grinder.

Sometimes it’s just better to take the hit and get up to play another shift. Unfortunately, it cost Barrie the rest of the year. 

That’s not to say this shouldn’t be reviewed or that Barrie had it coming–the latter is just not the case at all. But the NHL will make its decision, Cooke will be suspended and the Avalanche will have an opportunity to answer on the ice. So let them do the talking, Mr. Dater, and stop making yourself look like an incensed armchair general manager. It doesn’t suit you.


Tags: 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Matt Cooke Tyson Barrie

  • tomjefferson77

    I completely agree with the Avs beat writer. Matt Cooke is a classless, talentless bum. No wonder why he’s the hero of the Minnesota fanbase, who at least know enough about hockey to know that they stood no chance against the Avs without gooning it up in game 3. Wild fans will have plenty of time to discuss the Cooke situation while they’re watching the Avs and Blues in the 2nd round. Now go elect another professional wrestler as governor and re-elect crazy Michelle Bachman, you classless Minnesota idiots.

    • Timothy Solum

      Welcome to the STATE OF HOCKEY!

    • Thunderhorse

      Okay, Tom. Gooning it up? Look at the stat sheet. We lapped your Avs. The stat comparison isn’t even close.

      Tom, you have a problem. You let your emotions speak for you; like a two year old. Take a deep breath and calm down.

      Also, http://goo.gl/EF9RA8

  • Timothy Solum

    He who is with out sin can throw that first stone…right?

  • Timothy Solum

    One more comment, you blast the people of Minnesota yet Colorado is nothing but a bunch of pot head stoners the last time I read the papers. Your comments are as classless as the beat writer slamming Cooke. Cooke will not receive a suspension because he did not purposely attempt to take the guys knee out. Stuff happens in sports as it does in life and until people realize that they will be making the same classless remarks as you and this beat writer.

    • kbpenguino

      You must be high if you think he will not be suspended.

    • Marcus Bender

      “…he did not purposely attempt to take the guys knee out.”

      Whoa… What are YOU smoking? And where can I get some. Cooke needs to get 25 games here. Minimum.

      • Timothy Solum

        Not smoking anything, but you can go to Colorado to buy your refer legally. Hockey is a pretty violent sport, Cooke isn’t the only one throwing out cheap shots last night, his was the one that took the man out…I played for 20 years (not pro) and took many cheap shots, but I gave back as good as I got. If the Avs have a problem go after Cooke, not somebody else to make a point.

        • Kerry Elmberg jr

          Right on at least some one is making sense of it

    • Kerry Elmberg jr

      If u gotta bitch about stoners u don’t have a very good point. I started listening then u lost me when u started dissing pot heads u think it b kool if I called u a drunk cause u from America get real dude leave

  • MikeT

    You’re kidding right? Whether you like what Dater said or not, your a moron if you think Matt Cooke is “reformed”. Who are you calling a “homer?” Just one look at that video one more time and tell me that maiming Barrie was not Cooke’s intent…another scalp for his collection of dirty hit injuries, I count 8 now, remember a 17 GAME suspension? Maxime Talbot, Cooke’s team mate in Pittsburg put it best. He said just reading between the lines of Cooke’s comments the day prior to the game, he knew Cooke would be out there trying to take someone out…and it was Barrie because he couldn’t catch MacKinnon. Did you read the link that Dater posted by YOUR beat writer after the Wild signed Cooke. If he is your king of “reformed” hockey player fine…but own him for what he is. He’s going to be out the rest of the series, so I guess this will have to be dealt with last year. Watch how fast he runs to the box when someone takes their gloves off…he always does.

    • Thunderhorse

      Actually, our beat writer is Mike Russo, not Jim Souhan. Good try.

      Five minutes of Google doesn’t mean you should write on the Internet, Mike.

  • Todds_dad

    Author comes off looking like a homer, and a willingly blind asshole. Matt Cooke shouldn’t even be in the league anymore after his numerous transgressions and you’re going to defend that utter piece of garbage?

  • IHateNormGreen

    Cooke hasn’t been suspended in over three years and this one should be 4 games, the same amount that Kevin Porter was suspended for kneeing David Booth. Booth was out over 6 weeks after that hit, just like Barrie will be. Sucks to be Barrie, but keep the rules consistent. Also worthy of noting, Cooke has 28 points, is a +8 and has 54 PIM, not exactly goon territory. I’m not defending the hit by any stretch, but I am hoping most of the people commenting here aren’t judges in our legal system.

    • http://blogsareaboutego.blogspot.com/ Dustin Luke Nelson

      Worth noting that Cooke hasn’t even had a major penalty in three years.

  • Marc Harrie

    This article is an absolute joke! I am far from an Avalanche fan but that hit was disgusting. Cooke’s reputation is what it is for a reason. A rat is a rat no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise. Cooke has always and will always be a dirty player. Last night he was in true form again. You try to defend his actions as “going for a shoulder-to-shoulder hit” — what replay were you watching? His knee was out well-before contact was made. Furthermore, even if Barrie was attempting to avoid contact, the onus is on Cooke. I can tell you never played hockey (can’t say I’m surprised by your ignorance considering South Dakota “hockey” barely qualifies as such). The league does not need players like Matt Cooke.

    • Dakota Case

      So, I don’t know anything because I’ve never played hockey? That has no bearing whatsoever. I guarantee you at least half the beat writers covering the NHL have never played, either. Go back to your Matt Cooke dart board, it misses you.

  • Marcus Bender

    WHAT?? Wow. This article is WWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAYYYYY off the mark. The Author (Dakota Case) is going after another writer (Adrian Dater) – accusing the latter of being a “homer”, and of “going over the top”.

    Um. WHAT??

    If anything, Adrian didn’t go far enough. And, Dakota Case is the homer here.

    Matt Cooke’s knee-on-knee last night was an appallingly disgusting display of cowardice. There is no other way to put it. And this is like his what? 16th suspend-able offence? Kick him out of the League. Let’s not waste another minute discussing this sewer rat. He doesn’t belong in the League. Kick him out.

  • kbpenguino

    Considering that “How cool is that?” is a poorly punctuated question and that only high school cheerleaders (which you may in fact be, considering you are applauding what is an obvious and blatant attempt to injure an opposing player) end sentences with exclamation points, I can see the hesitation to issue a press pass or respect sports bloggers. If you didn’t see that bottom-feeder Cooke track Barrie’s knee, then move as Barrie shifted to his right (without the puck, I might add), you are either blind or incredibly stupid. I suppose you could be influenced by loyalty to a guy that would crawl out from the bottom of the port-a-potty he sleeps in to cheap shot his own mother if he had the inclination, but I’d like to think anyone smart enough to like hockey has better sense. Please don’t go on and on about how good this guy is then follow up with how he couldn’t pull up from that hit. No one’s buying, even with an exclamation point to drive it home. Is Adrian Dater a bit overdramatic in his editorial? Perhaps, but he has the job you wish you were good enough to get.

    • Dakota Case

      I’m sorry, and you write for who exactly? As to “How cool is that,”, it’s purposely written as a statement, not a question for your critique.

      • kbpenguino

        For whom. Good grief.

        • Dakota Case

          I’ll give you that one. ;) Still, my question stands.

          • kbpenguino

            You’re missing the point, but making another good one. You apparently get paid to watch hockey. You should be able to recognize an intentional knee-on-knee hit. I’m not a hockey writer, and I got it. You’re letting your loyalty to your favorite hockey team completely overshadow your judgement in your writing. Dater isn’t saying anything dozens of other sports writers aren’t. Judging by how many times he’s been quoted by other sports writers today, he isn’t as far out there as you seem to think.

            What if I’m a farmer and just have a better grasp of grammar and punctuation because my mom was an English teacher? You’re the one who took a paying writing gig where every word is subject to critique. My job has nothing to do with that.

          • Dakota Case

            I respect that. We’re all human and can’t be perfect; even beat writers make mistakes on the fly.
            However, take a look at the video. At first glance, it looks terrible, believe me. But when you look at the replay from behind Cooke, it’s clear Barrie makes a last second move to try to get around him. It came too late. What would’ve been a clean open-ice hit turns into an unfortunate hit by a player that has done everything in his power the past three seasons to avoid adding to an already poor reputation.
            Cooke isn’t on my list of my top-25 favorite players and I wasn’t a fan of his signing from the get-go. But that hit was completely unintentional and the point of the article is that Adrian Dater’s unfiltered hatred for Cooke couldn’t be more evident. That kind of biased unprofessionalism isn’t becoming of a National Hockey League beat writer.

          • kbpenguino

            Look, if you want to double down that Cooke’s hit was “completely unintentional,” go for it. A few pretty clear facts stand in the way. 1) You don’t lead a check with your knee. That’s a penalty regardless of intent. 2) You don’t get a hearing request from the league for a clean hit or for incidental contact. Feel free to come back and point out how wrong I am when the league hands down its suspension.

          • MikeT

            Dakota, you look like a nice guy. But what the F__ck are you talking about? I am no fan of Adrian Dater and I’m an a diehard Avs fan. Your profile says that you are a “nearly obsessed Wild fan.” Maybe, but you are an overly obsessed Cooke fan. Good, maybe you two can get a room and you can enjoy watching the rest of the series with him, as he is toast. You say that Dater is “piling on”, well, are THN, Sporting News, CBC, ESPN and all hockey town newspapers piling on too? Because all are saying pretty much the same thing. It’s really quite simple, not hard at all, this was another intentional maiming of an NHL hockey player by the POS Matt Cooke. Spin it any way you want, but all of your “colleagues” are calling Matt Cooke what he is, a serial POS and what he did, an obvious dirty hit. Funny, that’s everyone…but you. I guess your being an “obsessed Wild fan” and covering minor hockey makes you the expert and everyone else a hack…right?
            I don’t know what is wrong with Matt Cooke, perhaps he has mental problems. The Avs as an organization are not pure, Simon, Odgers, Lemieux, Foote, heck even Forsberg did their share of dirty. But all five combined don’t add up to the garbage that is Matt Cooke. You site Dater’s “unfiltered hatered” of Matt Cooke, well guess what pal, that’s a very long list in the hockey world and it’s Cooke that has to own that. I just love knowing that the day after he retires, the hockey world will completely forget him. He will never be missed a day.
            I respect the Wild as an organization, you have a history of great and honest players, Bruno being my all-time favorite Wild, I wonder what he thinks of Cooke? I can’t imagine that Cooke’s team mates will try and defend him, and I doubt, with the exception of a few lemmings like you, the great and knowledgeable Wild fans won’t be either. I bet they cringed just like we did in seeing that dirty display last night.
            He’s going to get a least 5, but my gut tells me that the League has had enough of the moronic Mr. Cooke. We will just have to see tomorrow. But, it’s hockey right! Let’s hope for a great series, it has been so far. I don’t hate the Wild, or their fans, in fact I love coming to the Twin Cites…I just wish you could have found another veteran, half way decent third line center besides Matt Cooke.

  • MikeT

    Hey Dakota…think Adrian Dater went on a rant? How about CBC Sports Nation? You know, those guys up in Canada that know a bit about hockey. They are asking for a 41 game suspension. Guess they “hate” Cooke too…right?


  • Kerry Elmberg jr

    What a pansy ass sport u can fight all u want but don’t touch knees together weak might as well kill the sport some more

  • Patrick B

    “Sometimes its better to take the hit and get up and play another shift.” You can’t possibly be that delusional…your actually putting this on Tyson Barrie? Of everyone that has managed to find a way to defend Matt Cooke, you actually win the prize for being the farthest away from reality….

  • P Cromwell

    Matt Cooke is a piece of crap. Period. End of story. If he ever plays another game in the NHL or any other league he needs to be speared in the face. After everything he’s done, he goes and knees this poor kid. You never stick your knee out like that EVER. Unless you’re a bush league piece of garbage. No interest in the Wild OR the Av’s, just disappointed and FURIOUS that cheap piece of excrement Cooke cheap shots another pro hockey player, and gets paid for it.
    choking on my own rage