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Old 02-01-2010, 05:51 AM   #1
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Default Cook on Cooke.

Calling Cooke an 'agitator' a disservice

Their lockers are just a few feet apart in the Penguins' room, but Sidney Crosby and Matt Cooke might as well be from different planets. Crosby is well on his way to being one of the NHL's all-time superstars, the face of the league and soon to be the face of the Olympics. Cooke is, well ...

How would you describe Cooke?

I took a shot at it and used the term "agitator" Sunday after the Penguins' 2-1 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings at Mellon Arena. Cooke smiled politely. But he clearly didn't like it.

"I've always kind of been in that stereotype and I've always tried to get out of it," he said. "An agitator, to me, is someone who gets 10 points a year and does his job. I like to think I contribute more to the team than that. I can get you 30-40 points a year and 10-15 goals."

You know what? Cooke is absolutely right. Calling him an agitator just won't do. Forget his 11 goals and 22 points so far this season. The term doesn't fairly describe his defensive work, especially as a penalty-killer.

I'm here this morning to call Cooke huge in this latest Penguins' win.

"There's no real stats to show that," Crosby said. "But we don't win that game without those guys doing their job."

The penalty-killers.

Wingers Cooke, Jordan Staal, Craig Adams and Pascal Dupuis, primarily.

Their five kills Sunday made it 20 in a row for the Penguins and 26 of the past 29. Three came consecutively with the game scoreless. The biggest came in overtime after defenseman Sergei Gonchar was called for hooking with 1:21 left. Cooke and Staal did most of the work in that 4-on-3 situation -- along with defenseman Mark Eaton -- and limited the Red Wings to just two shots.

"That's a tough penalty to kill," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Those guys really minimized their opportunities."

Added Crosby, speaking from his superstar perspective, "We appreciate what they do because we know how difficult it can be playing on the power play against guys like that. They can really frustrate you."

That's the sort of thing Cooke brings to the Penguins every game. He brought it in his first season here last season -- along with 13 goals and 31 points and another goal and seven points in the playoffs -- when the team won the Stanley Cup. He plays with a physical edge that every team needs.

Yes, Cooke will disturb the peace, occasionally. Philadelphia Flyers winger Arron Asham made a big deal of it after the teams played Jan. 24. He accused Cooke of biting him during a scrum late in the game, then called him "gutless" for not fighting when he challenged him later. "He's garbage to me and I have no respect for him at all," Asham said.

Suddenly, agitator didn't seem like such an insulting description, you know?

"He can say whatever he wants," Cooke said, dismissively, denying again that he snacked on Asham's finger. "If he's worried about me and yapping at me, he's not worried about the task at hand. With nine minutes left in a 1-1 hockey game, he wanted to fight. I wanted to stay on the ice and help my team win."

So Cooke did. He got the deciding goal in a 2-1 win on the power play when he deflected in a Gonchar shot with 1:47 left. Of late, he has been getting more ice time on the power play because of his willingness to take a beating in front of the net. Clearly, he takes as well as he gives.

Cooke is among the Penguins who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. You think he wants to stay? You have no idea.

"I love it here. It's an amazing place," Cooke said. "It's one thing to be a part of a winning atmosphere. But this team and this city have made it very comfortable for my family. I spent a long time in one city" -- Vancouver for nearly nine years ---- "and to be able to feel like I found a home again is a nice feeling."

Gonchar and Eaton also will be free agents, and their contract status surely will get more attention between now and then than Cooke's. It's nice to think the Penguins will keep all three. It's really nice to think they'll keep Cooke.

That physical edge, remember?

"You need all sorts to win," Cooke said. "You need superstars. You need points-getters. You need grinders. You need role players."

Notice the man didn't say agitators.

I know this:

I won't make that mistake with him again.



Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10032...#ixzz0eHgdXKry
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Old 02-01-2010, 06:15 AM   #2
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Default Re: Cook on Cooke.

Good read on Cookie, Zu.

You really don't hear much about Cooke's value to the team and that IS a disservice to him as a player. He skates extremely well and has good puck handling abilities, along with giving 150% every time he steps on the ice and hits everything that moves. In addition, as the article states, Cooke has been stellar on the PK and his defensive skills go pretty much ignored. Would I call him a bit of an agitator? YEP. He is another player I wasn't too fond of before he donned the black 'n gold, ala Battleship Kelly, Durbano, Ulf, Kaspar, Laraque, Ruutu, etc., but I quickly warmed up to all of 'em, including Cookie and his contributions to the team. He's definitely a keeper and I hope the Pens hold onto him.
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Old 02-01-2010, 06:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: Cook on Cooke.

Ahh I love this read on Cooke! He really is a huge piece to this Pens puzzle and just being an agitator is far and between his true role on this team! He has goals in the double digits; 11 I believe, and that alone for a third line Winger is great 2/3 through the season, and he contributes by yes being the players who likes to scrammble things up, get in the opponents heads, and cause turnovers, which he all does extremely well.

He gives the team everything every single night, and always steps up for his players who are in harm, or trouble and loves the fans, city and the team as well. Cooke truly does it all and is a "key" player for this third line. One of my favorites on the team I hope he continues his things, and tears it up in the NHL!
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Old 02-01-2010, 07:10 AM   #4
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Default Re: Cook on Cooke.

Sorry, but my opinion on Cooke has not changed. Yes, he IS an agitator no matter how much he wants to downplay it. He's also a dirty cheap shot artist with a history of having absolutely no honor when it comes time to stick up for himself and his actions. And I firmly believe Asham's claim that Cooke bit him - it falls right in line with everything else he's done in his career. I will give him credit for his play when he's not being a...well, I won't say what I'm thinking...but I can't ignore his other antics. Give me Jarkko Ruutu or Steve Ott any day of the week.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:41 PM   #5
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Default Re: Cook on Cooke.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HometownGal View Post
Good read on Cookie, Zu.

You really don't hear much about Cooke's value to the team and that IS a disservice to him as a player. He skates extremely well and has good puck handling abilities, along with giving 150% every time he steps on the ice and hits everything that moves. In addition, as the article states, Cooke has been stellar on the PK and his defensive skills go pretty much ignored. Would I call him a bit of an agitator? YEP. He is another player I wasn't too fond of before he donned the black 'n gold, ala Battleship Kelly, Durbano, Ulf, Kaspar, Laraque, Ruutu, etc., but I quickly warmed up to all of 'em, including Cookie and his contributions to the team. He's definitely a keeper and I hope the Pens hold onto him.
Me too! And I love what Cooke has to say about his time in Pittsbirgh.


Cooke is among the Penguins who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. You think he wants to stay? You have no idea.

"I love it here. It's an amazing place," Cooke said. "It's one thing to be a part of a winning atmosphere. But this team and this city have made it very comfortable for my family. I spent a long time in one city" -- Vancouver for nearly nine years ---- "and to be able to feel like I found a home again is a nice feeling."


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Old 02-01-2010, 12:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Cook on Cooke.

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Originally Posted by X-Terminator View Post
Sorry, but my opinion on Cooke has not changed. Yes, he IS an agitator no matter how much he wants to downplay it. He's also a dirty cheap shot artist with a history of having absolutely no honor when it comes time to stick up for himself and his actions. And I firmly believe Asham's claim that Cooke bit him - it falls right in line with everything else he's done in his career. I will give him credit for his play when he's not being a...well, I won't say what I'm thinking...but I can't ignore his other antics. Give me Jarkko Ruutu or Steve Ott any day of the week.
Nothing personal, but I value Sid's opinion over yours on Cooke.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: Cook on Cooke.

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Nothing personal, but I value Sid's opinion over yours on Cooke.
Hey, that's fine. I don't expect most Pens fans to agree with me. But I have never liked the guy and I never will. If he backed up his antics more often, I'd have no issues with him, but the fact is he doesn't. However, if at some point during the March 27 Pens/Flyers matchup, he drops the gloves with Asham, win or lose, I will give him props...but I'm not holding my breath.
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:23 PM   #8
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Default Re: Cook on Cooke.

Quote:
Originally Posted by X-Terminator View Post
Hey, that's fine. I don't expect most Pens fans to agree with me. But I have never liked the guy and I never will. If he backed up his antics more often, I'd have no issues with him, but the fact is he doesn't. However, if at some point during the March 27 Pens/Flyers matchup, he drops the gloves with Asham, win or lose, I will give him props...but I'm not holding my breath.
The next time Cookie gets a goal, an assist, makes a good play or delivers a huge hit at Mellon Arena, I don't want to see you clapping and expect you to remain in your seat. Fair enough?

Arron Asham is a douchebag who doesn't make a hair on Cookie's hiney. He fits in well with the rest of that filth that makes up the Cryers.
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:37 PM   #9
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Default Re: Cook on Cooke.

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Originally Posted by HometownGal View Post
The next time Cookie gets a goal, an assist, makes a good play or delivers a huge hit at Mellon Arena, I don't want to see you clapping and expect you to remain in your seat. Fair enough?

Arron Asham is a douchebag who doesn't make a hair on Cookie's hiney. He fits in well with the rest of that filth that makes up the Cryers.
Asham was out of line calling Cooke out like he did - I'll agree with that. No matter what you think of someone, you act like a pro at all times and settle the score on the ice, not in the media. He's never done anything like that before that I recall, but that's what happens when you put on that prison orange jumpsuit in Philthy.

That said, just because I don't like Cooke doesn't mean I don't hope he scores a goal or delivers a hit, because it helps the team. The way he plays the game, it'd be real easy for me to like him, but the fact that he stirs shit up or cheap-shots someone, then turtles or hides behind referees...I just can't get behind that. I respect Gonchar for a whole hell of a lot of reasons, but when he hit Clutterbuck with that flying elbow smash a few weeks back, he was fully expecting someone to come after him and wasn't going to turtle or hide. That made me respect him even more.
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: Cook on Cooke.

Quote:
Originally Posted by X-Terminator View Post
That said, just because I don't like Cooke doesn't mean I don't hope he scores a goal or delivers a hit, because it helps the team.
And that really is all that really matters in the long run.

Cookie has more than proven he is a good fit for this team and I'd love nothing more than for him to remain with the team until retirement.

Quote:
"He can say whatever he wants," Cooke said, dismissively, denying again that he snacked on Asham's finger. "If he's worried about me and yapping at me, he's not worried about the task at hand. With nine minutes left in a 1-1 hockey game, he wanted to fight. I wanted to stay on the ice and help my team win."

So Cooke did. He got the deciding goal in a 2-1 win on the power play when he deflected in a Gonchar shot with 1:47 left. Of late, he has been getting more ice time on the power play because of his willingness to take a beating in front of the net. Clearly, he takes as well as he gives.
AMEN. I hope he bites Asham's arm off the next time the two teams meet.
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