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Penguins agitator Matt Cooke apologizes, says he realizes he needs to change

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Suspended Penguins agitator Matt Cooke says he sees the error in his ways.

"I realize and understand, more so now than ever, that I need to change," Cooke told Pittsburgh reporters Monday night. "That's what I wanted my message to be."

Cooke was banned for the rest of the regular season and first round of the playoffs for elbowing Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh in the head.

Cooke is the fourth player suspended for the remainder of a season, joining former Islanders forward Chris Simon, former Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi and former Bruins defenceman Marty McSorley.

The suspension is the fifth of his career and fourth since joining the Penguins in 2008. He was also suspended four games last month for hitting the Blue Jackets' Fedor Tyutin from behind.

Pittsburgh has 10 games remaining in the regular season so the suspension will be a minimum of 14 games. Cooke will forfeit US$219,512.20 in salary.

"I'm fortunate that Ryan McDonagh wasn't hurt," said Cooke. "I don't want to hurt anybody. That's not my intention. I know that I can be better. ... I made a mistake, and I'm the one who's accountable for that. And I take full responsibility for it."

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, quoting GM Ray Shero, said Cooke had sent McDonagh a text message.

Cooke said he had apologized to the team and Penguins organization.

"My actions will speak louder than words. That's what matters most."

- with files from The Associated Press.

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