Matt Cooke is not a saint (this one is serious)

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Matt Cooke is not a saint (this one is serious)

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

I'm a fan of perspective.

As a story-teller, I realize there's often more than one side to everything and that both should be explored. Especially if the main character is being put on trial.

But don't insult my intelligence with a 'Matt Cooke's not a bad guy' angle.

This excerpt is from SI's story, "The Public Enemy":
Cooke is at an Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh's Strip District with John Lawrence and his family. Lawrence is 19. When he was 16, he suffered extensive brain and spinal injuries in a car accident and remained in a coma for 10 months. When Cooke heard about Lawrence through his foundation last fallMatt and his wife, Michelle, started the Cooke Family Foundation of Hope five years agohe invited Lawrence's family to the opener in Pittsburgh's new Consol Energy Center in October and took him to practice the following day. While Cooke was being trashed in the wake of the Ovechkin and Tyutin hits, Lawrence's father called a reporter at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review who previously had written about his son to say the city should know the other side of Matt Cooke. "John admired Matt's bravery and strength and turned to that when his rehab was rough," said his father, who is also named John. "Everybody was teasing John that his favorite guy was a dirty player, a goon, but Matt's just a guy who fights for his position on the team. A battler."

I thought of it today because at 1:30 p.m Cooke had a disciplinary meeting with Colin Campbell -- the third since February 6. He's accused of yet another dirty hit and the question is not if he'll get suspended again, but for how long.

Matt Cooke is rotten and I'm sick of hearing otherwise. He could start 15 foundations and it wouldn't matter. Why? This is a hockey problem. There can be no character witnesses who aren't employed by the NHL.

And this statement by Cooke -- "The biggest thing for me is that on the ice, there's a persona. It's what it is because that's what's made me successful. But that has nothing to do with who I am" -- is worthless.

This is what you aren't understanding, Matt: I don't care who you are as a person. On the ice -- as a hockey player -- you recklessly hurt opponents. And it needs to stop.

A Stanley Cup and nine 10-goal seasons in 10 years doesn't make someone who repeatedly hits guys in the head a tough, niche-player. There's a list of guys in the NHL who, despite philanthropy or impressive stats, will also be remembered as jerks because of dirty hits.

Here are a few. I hope the names make you feel less lonely, Cooke. The way guys with prison girlfriends don't feel lonely.

MARTY MCSORLEY
Off the Ice: Has participated in the Scotiabank ProAm hockey tournament that benefits the Gordie & Colleen Howe Fund for Alzheimer's. "To see people you love . . . slipping away. It's hard.'' McSorley said. Alzheimer's is terrifying; it's difficult not to sympathize.

On the Ice: Repped as one of the NHL's dirtiest players. He retired with 3,381 career penalty minutes. The video shows a hit on Donald Brashear that earned him a 1-year suspension from the NHL and an assault conviction in Canadian court. Seriously.

BRYAN MARCHMENT
Off the Ice: Participated in team charity events that benefited the UConn Children's Cancer Fund. He's also golfed in the Gary Roberts and Friends celebrity tournament held to raise money for Jumpstart (helps low-income children succeed in school).

On the Ice: 13 suspensions in his first 12 seasons. Has injured: Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk, Greg Adams, Mike Gartner, Kevin Dineen, Peter Zezel, Pavel Bure, Paul Kariya, Wendel Clark and Martin Rucinsky. (What's that, four different countries?!) Marchment really shines at the 1:00 mark of this video.

ULF SAMUELSSON
Off the Ice: He's given countless sticks away to fans and charities. The Swede has played charity hockey in his home country as well.

On the Ice: Tuffe Uffe's fans and most teammates loved him. That's because they never opposed his elbows. "Ive never tried to put a player out for the season, Samuelsson once said. But it wouldnt bother me if I put a player out for a game.

Um.

CLAUDE LEMIEUX
Off the Ice: In 2009, Lemieux skated in "Battle of the Blades." The couples figure skating represented one or two charities. Shares respected hockey opinions on TSN's "Off the Record."

On the Ice: Another Stanley Cup winner. Snagged the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1995. Could also be a total dick. Biting Calgary's Jim Peplinski's finger in a fight was small time. Check out these classy moves. Dino Ciccarelli on Lemieux after the 1996 Detroit-Colorado series: "I can't believe I shook his freakin' hand."

BOBBY CLARKE
He's considered a legend: Hall of Famer; four Stanley Cup finals; three 100-point seasons; three Hart Trophies. He was a much better hockey player than Matt Cooke could ever hope to be. He was also dirty.

While watching this video, keep in mind that this game was a "friendly" with Czechoslovakia.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."