Matt Cooke comes across as a little prick. I can safely say that most anyone who follows hockey on an even semi-regular basis would share that opinion. I can tell from actual experience that this is the truth. You see, just over six years ago, the one and only Matt Cooke (then of the Vancouver Canucks) played against my squad in a regulation beer league game.
It was January 31, 2005, a Monday night game. A Monday night game at 10:30 no less, at Burnaby, BC's Eight Rinks Facility. I was playing on a team in the third tier of men's hockey, third out of sixteen divisions so not quite elite beer league hockey but better than most. About ten minutes before puck drop, a league official came into our room and asked if we'd be fine with the other team dressing Matt Cooke. I'm not sure if they asked out of common courtesy or what, because anybody can play in that league seeing as it wasn't a playoff game. Even locked out NHL players.
The rink was also the home to the Canucks training facilty but they weren't doing training of any sort as the league was in the throes of the lockout that wiped out the entire season. I assume Cooke was buddy's with one of the guys on the other team, but for the life of me still can't figure out why he wanted to skate at 10:30 on a Monday night. Anyway, of course we allowed him to play.
Cooke played defense the entire game so as not to over-exert himself and I suppose so he wouldn't embarrass us with his offensive prowess. I mean the guy HAD scored 15 goals in the NHL and this WAS Div. 3 beer league. In the end he was an absolute non-factor as we beat them 5-2.
Right from the get-go Mr. Cooke was yapping. I have played ALOT of beer league games over the last 20 years (probably close to 1000) and you do at times come across guys that are just assholes. Cooke was indeed one of them. He kept whining about our guys getting even the slightest bit physical with him. The league is technically "non-contact", but that really only means no open-ice hitting. Rubbing out along the boards is acceptable and common. Well, Cookie appeared to be afraid he was going to blow out a knee or something and seemed to think it was taboo to touch him, that he should be off-limits. When a few guys actually did get close to him he just kept on whining. In fact my pal Ian must have gotten under his skin the most as Cooke threatened to "beat him up" near the end of the contest. I recall Cooke once even took a "mock" swing of the stick at one of our guys behind the play, not to actually hit him but just to be a prick.
Turns out, Cooke himself actually took a two minute penalty for Body Checking and he was on the ice when I opened the scoring with a short-handed goal ten minutes into the first. He took a few face-offs as well, and I know I beat him at least once.
I'm fully aware of the fact that Cooke was utilizing far from full effort, but he literally did nothing offensively. He made some passes up the middle trying to unsuccessfully spring guys that were as hard as most of our slap shots. That was about it. I don't think he had a shot on net.
As far as ex-pro's I've played with or against over the last few years Cooke was one of the least impressive. Sasha "The Masha"Lakovic scored a hat-trick against us a few years ago and I think I was probably most impressed by referee Shayne Heyer who played against us during the 1994/95 work stoppage and was not only huge, but slick with the puck...and he seemed like a nice guy. Three things Matt Cooke was not.
To see the boxscore for my Matt Cooke game click the title at the top.