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Monday, April 22, 2013

Matt Cooke: They Hate Me by @madchad412

Pittsburgh Penguins' forward Matt Cooke is one of the most talked about non-superstar players in the NHL. Usually, when his name is in the hockey world news it's not for something good. A discussion about Cooke usually involves intense debate, name-calling, and extreme criticism.

Cooke is third-line player that has done some really terrible things on the ice. At the same time, he's been a very good human being off the ice. He's also not a bad player, averaging around 30 points a year, while contributing on both sides of the ice, and helping how with quality play on the penalty-kill.

Even though I think Cooke is a good player, he has his flaws. Hell, I haven't always stuck up for the stupid stuff Cooke has done. At times, Cooke was one of the dirtiest players in the game. Take a look at all of the dirty stuff he's done throughout his career:

On March 21, 2011, Cooke was suspended for the final 10 games of the regular season as well as the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs when he elbowed Ryan McDonagh in the head. It was the longest suspension of Cooke's career and nobody, including Pens' General manager Ray Shero, argued against it. This is the moment that Cooke vowed to change the way he plays the game of hockey.

The question is has Cooke truly changed his ways? I think so, and in actuality, sometimes Cooke hasn't been the pest that the Pens have needed him to be. At times, Cooke has toned his play down too much, unable to grasp that happy medium between "dirty player" and "too nice". I mean, the Pens named him as their "Lady Byng" nominee last year, which goes to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.

Had Cooke won the award, it might have been the biggest upset since the "Miracle on Ice" when USA beat the USSR in the 1980 Olympics. Of course, Cooke wasn't even a finalist, but he showed that change is possible. Hell, I've made some seriously bad decisions in my life and I've been held accountable for them, just like Cooke. And also just like Cooke I've been punished, criticized, and given a nasty reputation that is hard to get rid of.

When Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber asked Cooke about changing his style of play, Cooke couldn't have given a better answer.

"This is not a diet, where you go on and off it. This is my livelihood. I needed to do this for my family, for my teammates, for everything."

Perfect response, and the very reason I joined team Matt Cooke.

Despite changing his ways and following his commitment Cooke is still being personally attacked by the media, fans, and hockey personnel across the NHL. This past Saturday, Cooke was under the opinionated attack of "journalist" and Boston Bruins broadcaster Jack Edwards.

Edwards compared Cooke to Sirhan Sirhan, the guy who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy. Cooke's done some dirty things in the league, but he never killed anyone. Also, Edwards should have been fined and suspended for saying such a dumbass comment during a Bruins game in the same week that the state of Massachusetts had multiple terrorism attacks. What a jackass!

The worst part was that Edwards actually went on to apologize for his comments and this time Ray Shero was there to defend Cooke. "Penguins general manager Ray Shero was visibly enraged when he learned of Edwards’ comments and confronted him in the first intermission."

Now, Cooke is going to have to endure the same ignorant hatred from a different fan-base. The Pens play the Ottawa Senators today and the Senators fans, known as the Red Scarf Union, are hosting "Matt Cooke Hatefest" to show their hatred for Cooke because of his dirty play, and the fact that they believe Cooke injured Senators' defenseman Erik Karlsson on purpose.

Not only does Cooke have to endure these jackasses displaying a "Hatefest" towards him, but he also has to go play a team owned by Eugene Melynk, who after the Karlsson incident said that "To have him (Karlsson) taken out by a goon is unconscionable. It's something that never should have happened. This player (Cooke) should never be playing in this league. It's a league for elite players". Last time I checked, Chris Neil wasn't a elite player Eugene.

Meylnk went on to say more dumb shit about Cooke, saying that he was going to do a "forensic study" to prove that Cooke injured Karlsson on purpose. Again, Mr. Melynk please feel free to forensic study deez nuts, as well as to why it is your team has never won a Stanley Cup.

Cooke obviously didn't injure Karlsson on purpose, and if he did it would have been obvious. If Cooke injured Karlsson on purpose he would more than hockey to worry about, he would be in trouble with the law. Meylnk and these "Red Scarf Union" turds are just spewing ignorant hate for a player that is a easy target. Same goes for Mr. Jack Edwards.

All of this hate just breeds more hate. Cooke truly has changed, whether other fans want to accept it or not. To see that someone as changed you actually have to accept their change and look at them in a unbiased perspective. Hockey fans aren't really good at doing that.

Off the ice, Cooke is a model-citizen. Cooke is married and has 3 children; Cooke and wife run a foundation called The Cooke Family Foundation of Hope, based out of Vancouver. Cooke also won the Edward J. DeBartolo Award for outstanding community service this year by the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.

I for one am impressed with how much and how fast Cooke has truly changed on the ice. He doesn't go  for the the dirty hits like he used to. I still think he can still be even more of a pest in the playoffs, someone like a Gary Roberts.

Cooke has shown flashes of offensive skill scoring 19 goals lass year, while providing 30 or more points in every season besides this year (shortened season) that he's been with the Pens. Not bad for a "dirty" third-line grinder that has been making under $2 million a year.

Lastly, I wouldn't be surprised for Cooke to have a big night in Ottawa just to show up all of those morons. Matt Cooke should take a page out of Rod Smart's page and change his name to "They Hate Me". Maybe even wear his Stanley Cup championship ring on his middle finger. Well I guess that wouldn't help his image but you get what I'm saying.

Sign up for Team Matt Cooke, haters hate.


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