Penguins veteran Matt Cooke has apologized for an illegal hit that earned him the stiffest suspension of his NHL career, telling local reporters that he needs to change the way he plays the game.
Cooke told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review late Monday in Detroit that he "made a mistake" when he landed an elbow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. The oft-penalized left wing was suspended by the NHL for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which means he'll sit a minimum of 14 games.
"I made a mistake. I'm the one that's accountable for that. I take full responsibility for it," Cooke told the newspaper. "I'm sorry to my teammates, my management, my coaching staff and my organization. It's something that, moving forward, I'll make different."
Cooke will end up forfeiting $219,512.20 in salary during the suspension.
The suspension is the fifth of his career and fourth since joining the Penguins in 2008. He was suspended four games last month for hitting the Blue Jackets' Fedor Tyutin from behind.
"It's a learning process. It doesn't just stop with being suspended. It also doesn't just stop with words," Cooke said. "My actions will prove it."
Cooke said that he hopes to win back the support of Penguins management and teammates.