Two days after knocking Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie out of the game (and perhaps out of the remainder of the playoffs), and following an in-person hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety; Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke was handed a seven game suspension on Wednesday.
The seven game ban is discipline for an incident that occurred in game three of Minnesota’s opening round playoff series against the Avalanche. In the second period of Monday’s contest, Cooke laid out Barrie with a knee-on-knee hit moments after Barrie had passed the puck. Barrie tried to avoid contact, but Cooke further extended his knee to ensure the hit was delivered. Cooke received a two minute minor penalty for kneeing. Minnesota went on to win the game in overtime, by a count of 1-0.
Barrie suffered a knee injury on the play, and is expected to miss between four and six weeks. In a video explanation, the NHL Department of Player Safety listed the severity of the injury, as well as Cooke not attempting to make a legal check and his previous history (he has now been suspended six times, but is somehow not considered a repeat offender) to justify handing Cooke a seven-game ban. If Minnesota’s playoffs come to an end before the suspension is completed, he will serve the remaining games at the beginning of next season.
Cooke will begin serving his ban Thursday night, when the Avalanche face the Wild in game four of their best-of-seven, opening round series. Colorado currently leads the series two games to one. According to Avs coach Patrick Roy, defenseman Ryan Wilson willto take Barrie’s place on the Avalanche blueline for game four. Forward Kyle Brodziak is expected to replace Cooke for the Wild.