Updated: June 10, 2014 6:35AM
Matt Cooke will return to the Minnesota Wild lineup for Game 4 on Friday after serving a seven-game suspension for kneeing Colorado’s Tyson Barrie in the first round. It was his seventh suspension spanning 32 games.
But Cooke continues to insist he’s a changed man and that the Barrie play was the exception, not the rule.
“Although this one situation happened, I still believe and know that I’m in a good spot as far as the way I approach the game, to go out and play a physical style without being [risky],” Cooke said.
Wild coach Mike Yeo said it’s up to Cooke to walk that fine line without detracting from the agitating style that makes him effective.
“For sure, that’ll be there,” Yeo said. “At the same time, he’s got to play his game, he’s got to play it with confidence.”
Cooke, who said he “earned myself an ulcer” having to watch his teammates play without him, certainly adds another dimension to the lineup as they try to even the series. He’s a physical player, but he’s also got some skill — 10 goals and 18 assists while playing all 82 games.
Patrick Kane said the Hawks will be mindful of Cooke, just as they’re mindful of any player. But they won’t be looking over their shoulders and bracing for anything dirty.
“I don’t think so,” Kane said. “He probably knows better now, where he can’t make any more hits that are going to affect himself or the team. When a player like that comes back in the lineup, [if] you worry about that player too much, it only affects yourself in a negative way. He can be an effective player, though.”