Matt Cooke

Wild GM defends Cooke signing: ‘He’s really evolved’


Free agent signings are all about taking gambles, but by signing Matt Cooke, the Minnesota Wild also risked some serious public relations fallout.

If you know any Wild fans, it’s likely you heard quite the uproar.

The Wild employ former Pittsburgh Penguins front office members including GM Chuck Fletcher and head coach Mike Yeo, so it’s clear they believe he’s worth the risk. Fletcher seems pretty well convinced that Cooke is a changed man (and player), as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

“There’s no question when he came into the league, he was an agitating player, a player that was in the league because of his physical play and his ability to get players off their game,” Fletcher said. “He’s really evolved.”

The former Penguins assistant GM thinks people will be pleasantly surprised with the 34-year-old’s versatility.

Cooke admits that there’s still an edge to his game, although he’s consciously tried to be on the right side of the rules.

“I still feel that’s the way I need to play to be successful,” Cooke said. “For me, it was eliminating the high-risk hits, and I always approached it to go out and get the biggest hit possible. With the speed of the game and the way [you can’t] hold up, it just brought in some situations that were a lot more dangerous.”

Much like Raffi Torres trying to win the hearts of San Jose Sharks fans, Cooke will need to overcome some bad memories from his days with the Vancouver Canucks.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of fans that aren’t fond of me and they remember when I played for Vancouver, but hopefully I can change their opinion quickly,” Cooke said.

As Torres would agree, the best way to do that is to help the Wild win.

Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

Robin Lehner
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Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.

On a new contract, Avs don’t dress Stuart in opener

DENVER, CO - MARCH 14:  Brad Stuart #17 of the Colorado Avalanche looks on as he skates against the Calgary Flames at Pepsi Center on March 14, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Flames 3-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Brad Stuart wasn’t on the ice for the first game of his two-year, $7.2 million contract and it had nothing to do with his health.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy felt Stuart simply wasn’t one of the six best defensemen in training camp and consequently he wasn’t in the lineup, per the Denver Post.

“Things could change for the next game,” Roy offered. “Like I said (Wednesday), we’re going to use those eight D all year long. (Last night was) just the first game of the season.”

Perhaps, but it’s still a terrible indicator, especially given that Stuart will turn 36 on Nov. 6. Stuart is a veteran of over 1,000 games, but now the question is if he has enough left in the tank to provide Colorado with much value.

The Avalanche also scratched defenseman Brandon Gormley, who was acquired from the Coyotes in exchange for Stefan Elliott. The hope was that both players would benefit from the change in scenery. Gormley was taken with the 13th overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, but has only played in 32 career NHL games.