Matt Cooke still says he is a changed man.
Less than a day after the NHL handed the Minnesota Wild forward a seven-game suspension for his knee-on-knee collision with Colorado Avalanche defenceman Tyson Barrie, Cooke reiterated to the media Thursday that he had no intention of hurting his opponent.
"It was not my intent to collide knee-to-knee. Meant to finish my check," he said.
The suspension has thrust Cooke back into a negative spotlight. From 2004 to 2011, he was suspended five times for a total of 27 games prior to his most recent conviction.
Nonetheless, Cooke is adamant that his questionable decisions are a thing of the past.
"Since March 20, 2011, I've been a changed player," he said. "Stats prove I'm a changed player."
Cooke has 48 hours to appeal the decision, first to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. If Bettman upholds six games or more, Cooke then has seven days to file an appeal to a neutral arbitrator.
He has yet to say whether or not he will appeal the ban.
If the suspension is not fully served in this year's playoffs, it will continue on next season. The Avalanche have a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 on Thursday.
Cooke is apologetic for his action and says he is "disappointed" Barrie will miss any time due to injury. However, Avalanche coach Patrick Roy told reporters ealier in the day that the damage has already been done.
"(Even if Cooke gets) 10, 15, 20 games, we're still playing without Tyson," said Roy.