Penguins, Matt Cooke agree to three-year extension


Thumbnail image for hardhitcooke.jpgDespite there being at least some doubts that the team could bring the villainous forward back, the Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to a three-year contract extension with rambunctious forward Matt Cooke. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review has the story, which states that the team hasn’t released the salary details just yet.

Left wing Matt Cooke has reached a verbal agreement on a three-year contract with the Penguins. Term was agreed upon Monday night and the contract has been sent to NHL central registry to be made official.

Financial terms were not immediately known, but Cooke is one of the rare plus-30 players to re-sign with the Penguins on a multi-year deal since Shero was named to his post in May 2006.

Cooke, 31, was one of eight Penguins eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Finding a resolution with him and defenseman Sergei Gonchar, 36, were the top offseason priorities of Penguins general manager Ray Shero.

While Cooke was already known for playing with an edge (or, as many will say, going far over the edge), this season solidified him as one of the most controversial hitters in the league after his brutal – but somehow legal – hit on Boston Bruins center Marc Savard.

Cooke is one of those “hate him until he’s on your team” type players, though. He scored 28 goals and 61 points in his two seasons with the Penguins, but Cooke truly came into form once Pittsburgh hired current head coach Dan Bylsma. In the 104 games played in the burrito-loving coach’s system, Cooke had 20 of 28 and 46 of 61 points and an impressive +22 rating. Love him or more likely hate him, he brought decent scoring punch to go along with his hard hits and excellent forechecking skills.

This comes a day after the team wrapped up defensive prospect and possible 2010-11 starter Ben Lovejoy to a three-year contract that would yield a 525K cap hit per season if the young blueliner plays at the NHL level. As Rossi pointed out, the Penguins still have some important decisions to make this off-season, particularly regarding the future of their top defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

Torres apologizes to Silfverberg and Sharks


A statement from Raffi Torres:

“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”

A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:

“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”

Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.