Cooke on Cooke: Extras from the interviews with City Pages

Categories: Wild
Tony Nelson
Matt Cooke has been called the dirtiest player in the NHL. He intends to prove the haters wrong.
Matt Cooke stood in the basement of the Braemar Arena in Edina wearing nothing but an undershirt, flip flops and boxers.

So began the first of many interviews with City Pages -- some more formal than others -- for this week's cover story.

SEE ALSO: Matt Cooke: The soul of an agitator

In the end, the Minnesota Wild's new forward revealed many sides of himself. Below you'll find a taste of those conversations, which for one reason or another did not originally make it to print.

On Minnesotans:

"Everybody seems almost Canadian. Americans, in my experience, have been very guarded with their trust, and Canadians are very free with their trust. I've found Minnesotans to be very trusting very early, and I love it."

On being an agitator:

"Most people don't like to be hit. They want to have space. When I'm out there, that's what I'm trying to deny -- time and space -- and make everyone feel like when they turn around I'm gonna be right there. I don't waste time and energy to go behind and stick guys in the leg. My game is the mental awareness of where I am on the ice at all times."

On why he lives for the playoffs:

"The hits are twice as hard 'cause one clean hit that deters somebody from going back to get a puck for the rest of the series creates four turnovers, which leads to two goals. You leave an impression that affects a player for the rest of the series. It's different for the [regular] season. It could affect a player for the rest of that game but next game he's playing somebody else. Or you're playing against somebody else. It doesn't have the same carry-over effect."

On not wearing a fake tooth in public:

"You talk differently, you can't eat with it. It's just not me. And I'm just totally not a fake person. I'm just real, so I hate wearing it. First day of school, my wife's like, 'You're not going to put your tooth in?' For what? She's like, 'What would you do if you saw a dad with no tooth and full beard dropping the kid off at school?' I don't know. I wouldn't judge him."

On the type of player he grew up idolizing:

"Being from Belleville, (Toronto Maple) Leafs games were on every Saturday night. I saw Wendall Clark all the time. To me, he was very businesslike. He went out, did his work, worked harder night in and night out, but scored goals, hit, was an energy guy for his team. It's kinda the way I was taught to play."

On choosing to play for the Wild:

"I get a phone call from [Wild head coach] Mike Yeo after free agency opened up. He said, 'Would you come play for me?' Absolutely. It would be ideal because it's familiar. [Yeo was an assistant coach with the Penguins]

"There were other teams involved. At the end of the day, it was a choice to be made by me and this one seemed the most intriguing for me (because of) the commitment of the owners, the general manager. They brought players in: Zach and Sutes, you know. Having the coaching staff, knowing what they're about, their desire to win and not become complacent and push through together.

"I just turned 35 but I want to win again. I'm not here for the world-wind tour, just to skate around the ice and see how many times I can stop and start."

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