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Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins walks to the ice before playing against the Washington Capitals during the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Heinz Field on January 1, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Washington won 3-1. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins walks to the ice before playing against the Washington Capitals during the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Heinz Field on January 1, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Washington won 3-1. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

A different view of Matt Cooke Add to ...

"He took piano lessons, played rugby and did very well in school. He's a very nice person. We're as shocked as anyone to see these hits. In some ways, we should all feel responsible for the Matt Cookes of the game, because we all stand up and cheer for fights and big hits. But he has gone too far. If they are going to clamp down on this stuff, they need to clamp down on everyone who is doing it." ~ Irene Cooke," ~ Matt Cooke's aunt

"We do hear lots of talk about Matt around the rink, like at any rink in the country these days. We do sometimes hear, 'What an idiot you have representing your minor hockey association,' or, 'What do you think of your boy now?' I can't answer why he delivers hits like that. I like him as a person, and in that way, I want to defend him. But you can't defend those hits. He's a good guy and has never forgotten us at the rink, but you wonder at the moment when you see those hits, where has the soft place in his heart gone?" ~ Barry Wilson, Stirling, Ont., arena manager, to whom Cooke personally brought the Stanley Cup during his day with it in the summer of 2009. The arena has a glass case displaying Cooke's Vancouver Canucks jersey along with some player cards and memorabilia.

"He worked as hard as anyone I've ever known. He is a guy that needs to play on the edge, and I would still have him on my team any day of the week," ~ D.J. Smith, Former Windsor Spitfires junior teammate

"In junior, he was a talker, and he would whack you or hit you, whatever it took to get you annoyed. But he could also put the puck in the net. He could take care of himself in a fight though. I was no angel myself. We went back and forth many times. You just knew we were going to fight any time we met. But I never hated him. You can't just be a fighter in the NHL. You would get killed. So there, he's an antagonist, a rat, and a great body-checker. [Steve]Stamkos said it best about him - I think you have control over your elbows. You can choose to grab a guy instead. It's deliberate, what he does in the NHL. I never saw him throw elbows in junior," ~ Mark Cadotte, A rival of Cooke's in the Ontario Hockey League as a member of the Plymouth Whalers and London Knights

"There are a lot of kids who can score points in the OHL. It was Cookie's toughness that earned him a shot in the NHL. He played the game tough and did the things others wouldn't," ~ Paul Gillis, Cooke's junior coach with the Spitfires

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