On Monday evening, the Pittsburgh Penguins traveled to Scotiabank Place to take on the Ottawa Senators in their first trip to the Canadian capital since Erik Karlsson’s Achilles tendon was partially severed by Cooke's skate. While the spotlight should’ve been on the Penguins’ 3-1 victory, the main headline became about an interaction between Cooke and Don Brennan, a reporter for the Ottawa Sun.
Let’s start with the title where Don Brennan refers to himself in the third person:
Sadly, this is the highlight of the article. It only goes downhill from here. Here’s an except from this article:
Matt Cooke was quite focused at Scotiabank Place on Monday morning.
He was focused on that night's game against the Senators. He was focused on helping the Penguins track down the Blackhawks in the overall standings. He was focused on his job as a penalty killer and pest.
Then, after practice, he was focused on the humongous media scrum around his stall in the dressing room.
And he was focused on my package.
Cooke must have read the Ottawa Sun on his way to the rink because something in it clearly had him rattled. And I'm still not sure which part.
After listening to Cooke answer questions about the Feb. 13 incident in which his skate sliced 70% of the way through Erik Karlsson's Achilles tendon, I went to speak with other players in the room about different matters. Like every other reporter there. On the way out, I found Cooke waiting to have a word in private with me.
He wanted to tell me I have no balls. At first I think he said "small balls." But by the time he had finished, and knew Penguins GM Ray Shero was listening, he had decided I had none. Oh, and I believe he also mumbled something about me having no penis before disappearing into the players-only room, which I found interesting.
I will not take this opportunity to, ahem, brag about my manhood.
Let’s backtrack a bit here. On Sunday, Brennan wrote an article in the Sun calling into question Cooke’s manhood. He further states that the only reason why the Senators will not retaliate for Karlsson’s injury is because they are in the middle of a playoff race and will not do anything to screw that up, such as taking a bad penalty which could lead to a goal. Brennan feels that Cooke may have read that article and became upset about it, and rightfully so. Calling into question anybody’s “manhood” is petty at best and shows what kind of hack Brennan really is.
Did Cooke really confront Brennan? Probably, but the only people who know what truly happened are Cooke, Brennan, and allegedly Penguins general manager Ray Shero. The other thing here is that Shero is a well-respected guy around the league. I highly doubt he would sit back and let one of his players talk to a reporter like that. Not only is it bad press and media relations, it’s just flat-out unprofessional.
You can say whatever you want about Cooke as a player. Yes, he’s notorious for being dirty and has caused serious harm to other players, such as all but ending Marc Savard’s career. While he has tried to clean up his image, he will always have the stigma of being a dirty player.
This doesn’t excuse Brennan for writing those two articles. As a journalist (and even a blogger), you’re required to maintain some sort of objectivity. He showed none in either article.
What’s even scarier is that the Ottawa Sun, whose reputation doesn’t speak highly of them, allowed this article to see the light of day. Brennan should be reprimanded for writing this garbage, at the very least. He won’t, which speaks volumes about the Ottawa Sun.
Hopefully, both Cooke and Brennan can stop this public hissy-fit and solve this like mature adults.