ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke made his first public statement since his knee-on-knee hit injured Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round series Monday at Xcel Energy Center.
Cooke was suspended seven games Wednesday by the NHL Department of Player Safety as a result of the hit. Barrie is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with an MCL injury in his left knee.
"First and foremost, I want to say that I am disappointed and sorry that Tyson Barrie cannot play for the Colorado Avalanche tonight. I wish he could. Unfortunately, it was not my intent to collide with him knee-on-knee. It was my intent to finish my check," Cooke said. "The playoffs are a hard and physical time and it's my job to be physical. I've led my teams in hits all three games and it's an intense time. I've led my team this year in hits, and in this series.
"Since March 20, 2011, I've been a changed player. I've approached the game differently. I think differently about the game. The stats I've collected over those three seasons prove that I am a changed player. And the plays that I make and the plays that I don't make prove to that point as well.
"At the end of the day, this situation was not my intent."
The suspension was the sixth of his NHL career but first in three years.
Game 4 of the series is Thursday at Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN2, RDS2, ALT, FS-N, FS-WI). Colorado leads the best-of-7 series 2-1.