New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The National Hockey League issued a seven- game suspension to Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke on Wednesday.
Cooke was only assessed a minor for kneeing Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie just over two minutes into the second period of Monday's 1-0 Minnesota victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals, but Barrie was later diagnosed with a sprained medial collateral ligament and is scheduled to miss 4-to-6 weeks.
The league announced shortly after the contest was over that Cooke was scheduled to have an in-person hearing with the Department of Player Safety, an indicator that the punishment would last for five games at the minimum. That hearing occurred at league offices earlier in the day.
A key stipulation of the punishment is if Cooke's full suspension is not fully served during the current playoffs, the remaining games will be tacked onto the beginning of the 2014-15 regular season.
Game 4 in the best-of-seven set between the Wild and Avalanche is scheduled for Thursday in St. Paul.
"Cooke is leading with his left knee. After Barrie releases the puck, Cooke continues in this posture, further extends his knee, and makes contact with Barrie's left knee. The play is in front of Cooke, from the moment he steps on the ice and begins striding towards Barrie, well before impact is made," the league stated in a video explanation of the suspension.
"The onus is on Cooke to ensure that any check he attempts is executed legally, and through the core of Barrie's body. Barrie takes evasive action and moves to his right in an attempt to avoid contact."
The 35-year-old winger has been suspended six previous times for various offenses during his 15-year NHL career, with the last coming in the spring of 2011. That was a 17-game ban (10 regular-season games and the entirety of the Penguins' first-round series against Tampa Bay) for a blatant elbow to the head of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
Despite his history of supplemental discipline, Cooke is not considered a "repeat offender" from a financial standpoint since his last suspension occurred more than 18 months ago.