Updated: 04/24/2014 5:17 PM
Created: 04/24/2014 1:21 PM KSTP.com
By: Chris Long
The National Hockey League suspended Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke seven games late Wednesday night following his knee-on-knee hit on Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie. Thursday morning at the Xcel Energy Center, Cooke spoke for the first time since the suspension was announced.
Click the video box on this page to see Cooke's entire statement
Cooke did not take questions, taking the podium to give a statement which was not written down or pre-prepared.
"First and foremost, I want to say I'm disappointed and sorry Tyson Barrie can't play for the Colorado Avalanche tonight," Cooke opened.
"It was not my intent to collide with him knee-on-knee, it was my intent to finish my check," Cooke said.
In his minute-long statement, Cooke did not state if he intends to appeal the suspension. He has 48 hours from the time it was levied to notify the league he wishes to appeal to a neutral arbitrator.
If he does file an appeal, Cooke cannot play while the appeal is considered. The suspension will keep him out of the remaining games against the Avalanche and some of the Wild's next series should the team advance to the next round.
If the Wild don't advance, Cooke would serve the penalty at the beginning of next season.
Wild coach Mike Yeo said during his pre-game availability that he had not been informed if Cooke planned to appeal.
Cooke did participate in the Wild's routine pre-game skate at the Xcel Energy Center.
Cooke's suspension is among the longest ever given for an incident that involved kneeing.
Click here to see the video from the NHL's Department of Player Safety which details why Cooke's hit was deemed worthy of a suspension - and why they determined he should receive a seven-game ban.
The NHL's Department of Player Safety explained Cooke's prior history of flagrant infractions and resulting suspensions were taken into account when determining the punishment for Monday night's hit.
Upon signing with the Wild this past summer, Cooke asserted had changed his game - taking steps to shed his deserved reputation as a "dirty" player.
Whatever steps Cooke had been taking worked, as he hadn't received a major penalty nor suspension in the past three years - dating back to March 2011 when he received ten games and the first round of the playoffs for a hit to New York Ranger Ryan McDonagh's head.
He reinforced that fact today.
"Since March 20th, 2001 - I've been a changed player," Cooke asserted. "I've approached the game differently. I think differently about the game. The stats that I've collected over those three seasons prove that I'm a changed player, and the plays that I make and plays that I don't make prove to that point as well."
The Wild moved Nino Neiderreiter up to take Cooke's place on the third link alongside Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine.
After being inactive during Game 3, Kyle Brodziak will be activated for Game 4 to fill the open roster spot.
The Wild and Avalanche play Game 4 Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center. Colorado leads the best-of-seven series two games to one.