Penguins winger Matt Cooke has not played his last game in a Penguin uniform. Cooke’s future with the Penguins has been a hot topic by fans and the media after Cooke was suspended for the rest of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs.
With the Penguins showing full support in the NHL’s decision and being strong supporters on a ban for headshots, speculation is rampant that the Penguins will decide to part ways with Cooke this summer.
Cooke who received a three year – $5.4 million deal from the Penguins last summer, has two years remaining on his deal that includes a modified no trade clause.
He’s arguably one of the Penguins top-5 forwards and the Penguins are going to give him an opportunity to change.
Cooke for now is saying all of the right things, telling reporters yesterday that he needs to change. “I need to change, ” Cooke said. The true test will be in the playoffs (if the Penguins get to the second round) or next season when Cooke returns to the ice.
He can still be an effective player and play the way he does as long as he quits the head hunting. For a player whose 32 years old and has been playing this type of style for his entire career, it’s going to be a difficult transition for Cooke.
Cooke though has to change and one more mis-step, the Penguins will surely part ways with him. He’s also hated so much by his peers, that as good of a hockey player he is, any GM would be reluctant to bring him on-board.
Aside from putting his General Manager and Owner in a very difficult position, the worst part of Cooke’s antics is the position he’s put his team in.
That’s where the argument can be made that he’s no longer worth the trouble.
Cooke is a very valuable player to this team and for a team already missing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh faces an even more uphill battle to win a playoff series this spring.