ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Since joining the Minnesota Wild last Friday, Matt Cooke has heard that a lot of folks aren't over his old, sometimes dirty ways.
And one such person had his attention: new teammate Zach Parise.
"It's funny, the first text I got was from Zach Parise, and before I said anything I told him once I see you in person I'll apologize for any past run-ins."
Cooke has been doing that a lot lately: asking for a second chance. To those who refuse to believe that he is no longer the same player that's been suspended five times, taken cheap shots at players, and accrued penalty minutes like they were trading cards.
But statistically Cooke is improved. In his last full season he had his lowest number of penalty minutes and his highest number of goals.
"I could play the rest of my career without being suspended and there are still going to be naysayers, and that's fine. I'm not trying to dodge anything that happened in the past, but I know who I am today and how I play the game, and how I approach the game, and that's not something that's going to change."
Neither will the number he wears while playing it. Cooke's worn number 24 his whole career, the same number once worn by the late Derek Boogaard - arguably one of the most loved players in franchise history. Cook received permission from the franchise to wear the number but said he didn't feel right until he got the blessing of the Boogaard family
"If there was any hesitation or doubt from the family at all, there is no way I would have put the number on, but the response I got was overwhelming."
With that hurdle cleared easily, changing his reputation could prove to be a little more challenging. But the Wild are betting three years and $7.5 million that he can do it.