Hearsay: Wild’s Cooke changing image

Matt Cooke signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal with the Minnesota Wild during free agency in July.

Hockey Hearsay compiles stories from around the hockey world and runs weekdays, 12 months a year.


The Minneapolis Star Tribune chronicles Matt Cooke’s sordid NHL disciplinary past. It is then pointed out that in two years since the hit on Ryan McDonagh (Cooke’s sixth career suspension), a reformed Cooke has amassed 80 penalty minutes in 130 games, no major penalties in the regular season and no suspensions. He’s not even considered a “repeat offender” by the NHL anymore.

Cooke doesn’t make excuses about his past. He says the hardest thing is when his kids are told that their dad’s some kind of monster, a cheap-shot artist. He’s trying to change that image. He’s devoted to his faith now, to being a good husband and dad.

“My game on the ice is not me as a person, it’s not me in the community, it’s not me as a father,” Cooke said. “At the end of the day, this is my job. And it’s a great job, and I wouldn’t want any other one.

“But at some point, it’s going to end and I’m still going to be young when it ends. All the perks that happened quickly go away and what you have at the end of that is your family. That’s what matters most to me.”


In describing Robin Lehner’s four-year journey since his first Senators rookie tournament, The Ottawa Citizen wonders how much will Lehner play this season. It depends, of course, on Craig Anderson’s health and performance.

“It all comes down to earning your ice time,” Anderson says, regarding the division of labour in 2013-14. “If I’m playing well, and the guys are playing well in front of me, I will keep getting back in the net. Obviously Robin is here to earn his ice time as well and if he shows he can play on a consistent basis – I don’t see why the coaching staff wouldn’t use two weapons.”

Anderson certainly sounds open to the idea of sharing the net, adding, “it just benefits the team by having guys rested and more mentally sharp by maybe having a few days off.”


Canucks forward Jannik Hansen reflects with The Vancouver Sun on how his twin boys spent the first 10 weeks of their lives at the neonatal unit at B.C. Women’s Hospital. They were born 2½ months early on March 3. Lucas and Daniel weighed 2½ pounds each.

Thankfully, the twins are healthy now.

“They say it will take a couple of years to catch up to where they’re supposed to be, but they’re on a fast track and on the right path now,” Hansen said.

“There are no lingering effects. They’re done with the hospital for now.

“Six months. It goes by quick. Every day there’s a new thing happening now. It’s been very exciting. They’re changing every day. It’s the greatest gift you can get. Your daily day is changed — it’s turned upside down from what it used to be. But the joy from looking into their eyes and the smiles are worth it.”


The Miami Herald recaps how free agent goaltender Tim Thomas agreed to come to camp with the Florida Panthers on a tryout basis.

“This is good. The guy is a proven winner,” said Brad Boyes, who is also in Florida camp on a PTO and played with Thomas from 2005 to ’07 in Boston.

“He’s one guy out of every goalie I’ve played with who is the hardest worker. He doesn’t let guys score on him. It’s impressive. A guy with his stature coming in here is big.”

Brian Campbell played with Thomas in Finland during the 2004-05 lockout and was equally complimentary of the goaltender, including offering this: “Everyone has their opinions and that doesn’t hurt anyone. The whole White House thing, well, maybe you would like him to go, but he cares about his country. If that’s his biggest fault, well, let’s move past it. He has strong views about everything, not just politics.”


CSNPhilly.com details how Flyers center Sean Couturier added eight pounds of muscle over the summer and is looking to rebound from a sub-par 2013-14 season.

“A lot of times second-year players don’t have as good a year,” said Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube.

“The one thing I know with Coots is that he is an intelligent hockey player. He knows how to play the game. That is not going to go away. He looks pretty good this year, looks energized.”

Berube feels Couturier is much better and the added weight has enhanced — not hurt — his game. He said his initial burst in the first 10 feet is better, much like the hot start that Claude Giroux has in his skates.

“The first 10 feet is where he needed to be quicker,” Berube said. “That’s where people like Jake Voracek get away from guys — they get off, then they’re gone. That’s where he had to get quicker for me. Once he gets going, he’s fine. You pull away from people and create space for yourself.”


CSNBayArea.com shows how Sharks forward Joe Pavelski recorded nine goals and five assists in the final 18 games last season after coach Todd McLellan moved him out of the top six and into the third line center role.

Will that be the case again this year?

“That would be a great plan, when we lay it out on paper. If we could be [Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Pavelski] deep down the middle, we feel quite comfortable,” said the head coach.


“With injuries, opposition, ebbs and flows during the year, I think you’ll see Pav wander around from time to time. [Tyler] Kennedy was brought in because he has the ability to play center, as well. When we look at third line center, it could be Kennedy, Pavelski, or other guys that compete for jobs throughout the camp.”


The Chicago Sun-Times draws parallels between Jimmy Hayes and Bryan Bickell of the Blackhawks. The

Hawks are in search of a third-line wing, a physical, responsible presence who still can produce. Hayes, a 6-6, 221-pound 23-year-old, is the leading candidate.

“That’s the role I’m going to try to fill,” Hayes said of Bickell’s old spot, with Bickell moving into the top six forwards. “He did pretty well with it. He was a great role model to watch, a big, powerful guy, and I want to play similar to him.”

Hayes credited a rigorous offseason training program. He focused on his fitness and conditioning level, as well as his skating. Coach Joel Quenneville — who holds Hayes’ fate in his hands — has noticed.

“Jimmy Hayes had a real good week,” Quenneville said. “He was one player that really stepped up and showed us that he wants to make our hockey team. He worked at a different level in the offseason, he prepared himself to be in much better shape, and you can notice his quickness and his drive out there.”


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