|Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Jess Myers, 1500ESPN.com -- "He was pretty dirty," Parise said. "He got under your skin, and he's got that ability to take your focus off the game and off scoring goals, and he puts your focus on him. That's a good trait to have, and that's a good player for us to have."
A quick check of Cooke's online bio shows nearly as many NHL suspensions for dirty and dangerous plays as trips to the playoffs. It also shows a Stanley Cup ring that Cooke won with the Penguins (who had an assistant coach named Mike Yeo back then) in 2009. Still, over the summer when the Wild inked Cooke to a free agent pact, the reaction of some fans was akin to announcing that a tried and true goon like Ulf Samuelsson, or Todd Bertuzzi or Chris Simon (again) would be wearing green and red.
"I understand their reaction. I don't blame them for it, and they're entitled to it," said Cooke on Sunday. "But I'm a different player now, and somehow, some way, with this being the State of Hockey, I believe if for some reason I was on this side doing the same things, they'd be loving me. So I ask for patience, and hopefully after three or four shifts their opinions will change."