Friday, August 26, 2005

At What Cost, Cooke?

MOJO Radio interviewed Matt Cooke's agent, Pat Morris, and like the good agent that he is, he stated that if Matt Cooke was an unrestricted free agent his value would be comparable to the overpaid likes of Dave Scatchard ($2.1 million) and Martin Lapointe ($2.4 million).

Now don't get me wrong... I love Matt Cooke. Back in 2002 when Orca Bay offered me a Canucks jersey signed by anyone on the team (it was an incentive for booking a bunch of group tickets), I picked Cooke's. Not Markus Naslund's or Todd Bertuzzi's or Ed Jovanovski's, but Matt Cooke's.

Matt Cooke bleeds Canucks blue. He is a gritty and scrappy player. He is responsible in his own end and plays a key role on the penalty-killing unit. When offered the opportunity to replace Bertuzzi at the end of last season, he responded by putting up 10 points in the last 13 regular season games and 4 points in 7 playoff games, including his now infamous goal in game 7 when he sent the game to overtime with 5.7 seconds left.

The problem is that Pat Morris' argument is based on this role. And while it's a definite bonus that Cooke was able to elevate his game when required, this is not the regular role they have for him. Matt Cooke is a third-liner - and in my humble opinion he is one of the best in the league because of the reasons I stated above - but unless the Canucks see him in any regular role bigger than that, he should only be paid as such.

In a way, I feel bad for Cooke. He's been one of the most underpaid players in the league over the last couple of years. But he's not going to get back money lost and nor should he expect to. Not in this economic system and not with the Canucks. With the Canucks, he is worth somewhere under the Sedins and over Jarkko Ruutu.

Does he deserve a raise? Absolutely. The real question is how much.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:19 AM


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