On Tuesday, recently suspended Matt Cooke spoke to the Pittsburgh media about his illegal elbow to Ryan McDonagh’s head and the subsequent suspension handed down from the NHL. Despite his impending 14+ game suspension, it was his public comments that would allow the healing to begin and the public sentiment to subside. Let’s be honest, it was only a matter of time before he finally apologized for one of these hits. Now that he’s apologized, the NHL community will decide the next step.
In his comments, Matt Cooke was contrite and sounded genuinely remorseful for his actions. Here’s a sample of his comments:
“I realize and understand, more so now than ever, that I need to change. That’s what I wanted my message to be.”
“I made a mistake. I’m the one that’s accountable for that. I take full responsibility for it. I’m sorry to my teammates, my management, my coaching staff and my organization. It’s something that, moving forward, I’ll make different.”
“I’m fortunate that Ryan McDonagh wasn’t hurt. I don’t want to hurt anybody. That’s not my intention. I know that I can be better. As I just said, my actions will speak louder than words. That’s what matters most.”
Whenever an athlete (or public figure for that matter) makes an apology, the general public will usually fall into one of two categories. The optimists who hear the apologetic words will want to believe Matt Cooke. They’ll want to hear the words and believe that this is the end—this time it’s different. He’s seen the err of his ways and knows he needs to get it together or he won’t get another chance.
For people who want to believe Cooke, the comments hit on all the issues he needed to address. He said he needs to change. He acknowledged that his team is unwilling to stand behind him this time. He said he needs to change. He said he didn’t want to hurt his opponent. He mentioned that only his actions will speak louder than words. And he said he needs to change.
On the other hand, pessimists will say the words Cooke said to Pittsburgh reporters were nothing more than rehearsed words designed to cool the angry people around the NHL. They’ll say he delivered the same speech that all athletes deliver when they are punished for crossing the line. They won’t believe Cooke because they’ve seen it too many times. They’ve seen him break the rules and receive a suspension; only to break the rules again and receive another suspension. They’ll ask why this time will be any different.
What do you think? Does Matt Cooke’s public apology do anything to make you change your opinion or were the words just part of the process? Let us know in the comments.