As many of you are all-too-aware, I am a Minnesota Wild fan when possible. I also own a Derek Boogaard jersey and once purchased a Marc Savard jersey. So, when I see this sort of thing, I have to write about it:
Matt Cooke signed with the Minnesota Wild during Free Agency Frenzy. For the next 3 years, Matt Cooke will cash checks totaling 7.5 million dollars signed by none other than Mr. Craig "Lockouts are the Best, Jeremy! See you in a New York Courtroom soon! xoxoxo" Liepold. It makes me want to puke a little. Of course, the first two bits of news that have come out since then are:
1. No, but he's okay now!
Yet another deluge of "I've changed, really" pieces praising Matt Cooke for having not taken off anyone's head in the last couple months. Now, we all know that Matt Cooke hasn't been tossed from a game since, like, the last 2 games. Would be 3 or 4, but even Adam McQuaid remembers why it's not. So spare us all the trouble about how a guy who's paid millions to do what he does is going to stop doing that. It's bullshit, and you're doing yourself a disservice to believe him this time around.
The fanbase in Minnesota should remember Cooke well from his time in Vancouver. From a piece welcoming him to Minnesota:
Two years later, he had a run-in with the Wild's Matt Johnson. Cooke was suspended two games, Johnson five.
"Minnesota fans were loud," Cooke said. "They were on Todd Bertuzzi a lot more, though -- thankfully for me."
If your saving grace is that you're not as bad as Todd Bertuzzi, you're in trouble.
2. Guess whose number Matt Cooke wants to wear?
Matt Cooke has worn 24 his entire NHL career. Derek Boogaard wore 24 for his entire Minnesota Wild career. (Captain Ryan Callahan wears 24 in New York) So, of course, noted shitbag asshole Matt Cooke has already said in an interview that he's going to talk to the Boogaard family about wearing the number 24, which hasn't been worn since Boogaard's death. Yes, Marty Havlat wore it for the year between Boogaard signing in New York and Boogaard dying. But nobody since. The number isn't officially retired, but nobody has worn it since. Nor should they. If you don't remember, it's a heart-wrenching story, one which the New York Times did a great 3-part story on the rise and fall of Derek following his death. If you haven't read it, and have a quiet corner to cry in, I suggest you do.
But back to the man with the plan to troll the fans. Matt Cooke says that he's going to ask the Boogaard family about maybe using his number. The Boogaard family. Remember when Aaron Boogaard got arrested immediately after his brother died because he had scored the drugs that killed him? Just, an awful thing. Nothing about the situation was good. You can read Hockey Wilderness's coverage of the memorial at the Wild's home arena. It seems...very wrong for Matt Cooke to buy his way into wearing a dead man's number. Especially one that didn't like him.
What happened to Derek was tragic, and (more importantly) a direct result of the things he did in a Wild sweater, wearing number 24. To take that away from him would be a terrible thing to do. It feels disrespectful. It feels like stealing the legacy of a man who can no longer do anything to build one. Matt Cooke's legacy is built on a foundation of taking things away from his fellow NHLers. He is a decent defensive forward, so he takes away the pass. He takes away the puck. But he takes more than your average hockey player. He's also taken away Marc Savard's career. He's shortened or put on hold others while concussions clear and knees rebuild.
Is Matt Cooke so shameless that he would take from the dead?