Matt Cooke Nearing Return to Action


As the Minnesota Wild’s schedule begins to ramp up against several noteworthy and difficult opponents, the team looks to be receiving an early Christmas present in the return of agitator Matt Cooke.

Cooke, who hasn’t played in the last 20 contests, seems to be making significant progress in recovering from hip flexor injury that was originally thought to keep him out only a few games. Clearly the injury was far more of an issue than previously thought as Cooke essentially dropped off the radar for the entire month of November. Cooke supposedly skated 10-15 times individually before he rejoined the squad for practice Monday.

Apparently he picked up right where he left off by pulling pranks and yapping, a definite sign that he was ecstatic to get back around teammates.

Apparently he got a little too giddy at one point by smashing into Mikko Koivu, something the Finn wasn’t exactly thrilled about. When he tried to apologize with a big bear hug after practice, Koivu didn’t receive it as well as Cooke hoped. Regardless of the interchange, it is a sign that he is chomping at the bit to return to actual competition.

Mike Yeo told the media Monday that Cooke will definitely miss tonight’s game in Chicago and tomorrow night’s at home against the Boston Bruins. He said that the earliest he could see the ice is Saturday when the Nashville Predators come to town.

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Matt Cooke’s return couldn’t come at a better time as the fragile Wild have experienced a rash of injuries in recent weeks. Whether it’s the mumps or more serious problems such as in the case of Keith Ballard, the Wild are far from healthy as they approach an important stretch in the season. With Ryan Carter being the latest to hit IR, it seems likely that Cooke will find a spot on the fourth line as he gets back up to game speed.

The tenacity that Cooke brings on a nightly basis will be invaluable to a Wild team that finds itself lacking a true grit player. While Ryan Carter and Kyle Brodziak are able to fill the role for a short period, it is only a temporary fix that doesn’t come close to matching what Cooke game in and game out.