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Matt Cooke

Born:September 7, 1978Draft:1997 Canucks #144 Overall
Hometown:Belleville, ONPosition:Left Wing
Known For:Stanley CupShoots:Left
National Team:CanadaCurrent Status:Retired

Matthew David Cooke (born September 7, 1978) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player who played sixteen seasons and 1046 games in the National Hockey League (NHL). Cooke won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2008–09 NHL season and was a member of the Team Canada team that won the gold medal at the 2004 World Championships. In addition to having previously played for the Penguins, he has also played in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals and Minnesota Wild. Cooke was born in Belleville, Ontario, but grew up in Stirling, Ontario.

Cooke’s playing style earned him the reputation as one of the NHL’s “pests”. During his NHL career, Cooke was criticized and often suspended for hits, some involving head-shots, or knee-on-knee collisions that have injured opposing players. Most notable was a hit to the head of Marc Savard, which was an important factor influencing NHL rule changes intended to deter such conduct. Years later, during a lawsuit against the league, an email produced during the litigation from the then-disciplinarian Colin Campbell revealed that he—an NHL executive—blamed Savard for keeping his head down. However, other commentators disagree and condemn the hit.

Of note, former CBC host and head coach Don Cherry has been consistently and effectively critical of Cooke, personally, and has faulted the NHL for not responding appropriately to Cooke’s intent to render opposing players unable to play over the years. After his longest suspension in 2011, Cooke pledged to change his style of play, although he had another lengthy suspension in the 2014 playoffs for a knee-on-knee hit delivered to Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche. Although he is no longer a member of the Canucks organization, he is still active in the Vancouver community with his wife.

Matt Cooke, seen here with the Pittsburgh Penguins (Tom Turk-THW)

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