Cooke responds to Melnyk accusations

A day after Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk called Matt Cooke “a goon” who should be booted from the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins winger continued to strike a conciliatory tone.

A day after Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk called Matt Cooke “a goon” who should be booted from the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins winger continued to strike a conciliatory tone.

As Cooke was running Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson into the boards during Wednesday night’s game in Pittsburgh, his skate came down on the back of the defending Norris Trophy defenceman’s leg and cut his Achilles tendon.

Melnyk was livid after learning his star player would be out for the season and lashed out at Cooke Thursday, suggesting in an interview that a player who has been suspended five times for questionable incidents has no place in the game.

Cooke, who apologized after the game and said he didn’t mean any harm, was asked about Melnyk’s comments as the Penguins prepared to face the Winnipeg Jets Friday.

“Obviously I’m sorry Mr. Melnyk feels that way and I understand the position he’s in and it’s not easy,” he told TSN. “I think this is different than it was in the past for me, I know where my head is and how I feel about the play and that’s most important.

“I’m not one to judge whether it is unfair or not. I mean, people are entitled to their own opinions and they’ll have their own regardless of what I do.”

Cooke added that he’d tried to reach out to Karlsson via text message, but hadn’t received a response.

“Whether or not (Karlsson) responds to me, I mean I understand. At the end of the day, it was a freak, unfortunate accident and I can’t control anything else other than that,” he was quoted as saying.

The Senators organization has been upset top to bottom since the incident, but both Melnyk and general manager Bryan Murray insisted they weren’t upset that the NHL didn’t dish out any supplementary discipline.

Both suggested Cooke’s history of injuring opponents — including ending Bruins centre Marc Savard’s career with a hit to the head in 2010 — was reason enough to doubt the Karlsson incident was an accident.

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