In a meeting that was sure to at least blip on the radars of heroes like Avengers and Batman, Matt Cooke reportedly reached out to Patrick Kaleta to try and help him reinvent his game in the coming months. “Reinvent his game,” in case you aren’t aware, is code-speak for “not severely injuring my fellow hockey players while hampering my ability to pay bills in the process.”
If there’s one person that the NHL’s discipline system worked out for, it’s Cooke. The current Minnesota Wild forward had many brushes with Brendan Shanahan and is the owner of some of the dirtiest plays in recent memory. He somehow managed to earn the reputation as an outstanding penalty killer though, and still has a job because of it.
Most tough guys around the league that have staying power bring at least one other skill besides bare-knuckle boxing to the ice. Cooke and his PK prowess is a good example. While it remains to be seen what other element of his game Kaleta is going to work on, he seems to be finally getting the picture clearly.
He spoke to the official site of the Buffalo Sabres recently about the changes he needs to make moving forward:
There’s not much info I can give right now, but it gives me time to try to better my game, try to better myself and along the way, maybe help out some of the younger guys with some of the things I’m watching and seeing and seeing if I can help out in that aspect as well.
That’s all in well, but as we all know, talk is cheap. We’ll see what Kaleta does the next time he has the opportunity to hit a prone opponent in the head. Then we’ll see if Cooke’s talks have truly helped a player that has appeared helpless over the last six seasons. He’s been fined or suspended four times in that span, and has a long way to go on the path to redemption.