Suspended Matt Cooke says knee-on-knee hit was 'accident'

Matt Cooke #24 of the Minnesota Wild shoots the puck against P.A. Parenteau #15 of the Colorado...

Matt Cooke #24 of the Minnesota Wild shoots the puck against P.A. Parenteau #15 of the Colorado Avalanche during the second period in Game Three of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 21, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images/AFP)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:06 PM ET

ST PAUL, Minn. -- Matt Cooke says blowing out Tyson Barrie's knee was an accident, and that everyone should believe him because he's not a dirty player anymore.

The morning after being handed the sixth suspension of his controversial career, the Minnesota Wild winger addressed the media prior to Game 4 of the Wild-Colorado Avalanche playoff series and tried to explain the knee-on-knee hit as a simple hockey play gone wrong.

Cooke, who didn't say whether he plans on appealing the seven-game suspension handed to him Wednesday night, read a 90-second prepared statement and refused to take any questions.

"First and foremost I want to say that I'm disappointed and sorry that Tyson Barrie can't play for the Colorado Avalanche tonight," he said. "It was not my intent to collide with him knee-on-knee. It was my intent to finish my check.

"Playoffs are a hard and physical time and it's my job to be physcial. I've led my team in hits in all three games. It's an intense time. I've led my team this year in hits and in this series.

"Since March 20, 2011, I've been a changed player. I've approached the game differently. I think differently about the game. The stats I've collected over those three seasons prove that I'm a changed player. The plays that I make and the plays that I don't make prove that point as well.

"At the end of the day, this situation was not my intent."

While the Avalanche aren't thrilled with the punishment, they also know that no amount of games will bring back their 22-year-old defenceman.

"It doesn't matter the number of games, it doesn't replace Tyson Barrie," said Avs coach Patrick Roy. "We want to see Tyson on the ice tonight."


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At least they won't see Cooke.

"It's out of our control now, he's out of the series," said Paul Stastny. "Everyone has their opinion on how many games it should be, it's all he-said, she-said, but it doesn't really matter for us, we've lost one of our best defencemen."

"The league said seven games, they did the job they thought they had to do and that's what it is," added Erik Johnson, who said Wednesday that Cooke shouldn't even be in the league. "It's obviously a tough blow, but we've had to deal with injuries all year. It's tough but we'll go on without him."

With the spotlight on Cooke the last three days, Barrie has become the forgotten man in all this. He had two points, was plus-3 in the first two games and was a key part of the Colorado attack.

"It's tough," said Stastny. "He's trying to have high spirits. He's out for an extended period of time and he doesn't know how long the season is going to last. It could be a few more games or it could be a couple more rounds. He's just trying to rehab as quickly as he can."

Wild coach Mike Yeo says his team, trailing the series 2-1, doesn't need the distraction right now.

"We respect and accept what the decision is from the league," said Yeo. "Now it's really important that we put it behind us."

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/Sun_Tychkowski

 


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