Penguins winger Matt Cooke, speaking publicly today for the first time since he received a four-game suspension from the NHL, said he accepted the ruling but declined to offer an opinion about it.
"It's the league's decision," he said. "They assess every hit and every play. That's their ruling."
Cooke participated with the team at its morning skate at Consol Energy Center but will not be allowed to play tonight against Los Angeles. He is eligible to return Feb. 20 when the Penguins play in Chicago.
He was suspended for a hit from behind against Fedor Tyutin of Columbus during a game Tuesday.
"I'm glad that no one was hurt," Cooke said. "It wasn't my intention to put him into the boards violently. He played the rest of the game and played [since]."
He said he has received a lot of support.
"From ownership to management to my teammates, they're all here, they're all for me," he said. "They've stated their opinions on it. I'm grateful for that. And my family supports me as well."
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, while pointing out that his players have absorbed hits that left players injured but did not result in suspensions, took a similar approach to Cooke's suspension.
"They look at those hits and have rules in place and deemed [it was worthy of] a pretty substantial penalty for Matt, which we're going to accept," Bylsma said.
"Matt Cooke is a physical player. It's how we want to play the game as a team, and he's a big part of that. He's a guy who's added to us being a successful team in being that way, and he's going to continue to be a physical part of our team when he does get back in the lineup."
Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1721