Penguins left winger Matt Cooke spoke today as the team gathered for physicals and testing at Consol Energy Center. He touched base on his role, Jordan Staal's foot ailment, new teammate Arron Asham and hits to the head.
On the potential of breaking up the third line of himself, Staal and Tyler Kennedy:
"You prepare yourself to play every year differently. I didn’t know the line was going to be that way last year for the most part. Obviously, it’s pretty easy to play with Jordan and I got used to that. Unfortunately, he’s not going to be able to start the season with us so we’re going to have to be different. I’ll just try to bond or connect with my line mates whoever they may be."
On Staal's injury:
"It (stinks). How do you replace a guy that’s (6-foot-4), plays 20 minutes a game and kills all your penalties. But I think if anybody, our group in here can do it. It’s a good test for us early on and it will make us stronger when he comes back."
On the competition in camp among the forwards:
"There’s not that many spots open. There’s a lot of guys here who have played in the NHL before and they’re looking to play again or even young guys who feel like it’s their time to make the NHL. It’ll be a battle for sure. Exhibition games will be high intensity because there’s going to be a lot of guys in here to prove a point."
On teaming up with his former adversary, Asham:
"We’ve talked. We hugged it out yesterday. It’s a situation where he’s coming to a team that gladly accepts him. What ever has happened in the past is the past. You move forward quickly."
On the league's rule changes regarding hits to the head:
"I think it clarifies the way the rule was before which was a good thing. Any time you can add clarification to a rule it helps. I’m sure we’ll do video with the league so that we’re all on the same page and we’re all totally clear."
On the rule before the change:
"The rule before didn’t put the responsibility on the hitter and now the responsibility is a little bit more on the hitter and I’m good with that."
Will it affect his game:
I don’t think so. It’s only one scenario that it affects. I can still dump the puck in and hit a defenseman into the boards. Back when they changed the rule about hitting from behind and being responsible on icing, those happened and didn’t affect the physical play. It just helps protect everybody on the ice.
(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)