Tuesday, February 26, 2008

An Unsung Hero

A little more than a month ago, I raised enough money for the BC Children's Hospital Skate for a Cure and had a chance to meet a Canucks player and get a picture taken with him. When I got to GM Place, I asked one of the arena hosts which player was there and he responded, "The two players that do the most community work around here - Trevor Linden and Matt Cooke."

In the last couple of years, Matt Cooke had a bit of falling out with Canucks fans, but it wasn't always that way. The Canucks drafted him in the 6th round (144th overall) in the 1997 Entry Draft. He made his Canucks debut the year after and immediately became a fan favorite due to his rambunctious style. Canucks fans voted him as the team's Unsung Hero in 2003.

For whatever reason, Cookie's style didn't mesh well with Alain Vigneault's system. Under Marc Crawford, he knew his role - the shit disturber - and played it well. Under Vigneault, quite simply, he looked lost at times. He was okay but he wasn't the same, and today, the team that drafted him and the only team that he had ever played for traded him to the Washington Capitals.

Cooke was one of my favorite players. I have one signed Canucks jersey and it's his signature on it. I love his all-out style. I'm sure you've heard me say this before but I always thought he bled Canucks blue and left everything on the ice. Unlike his critics, I've never perceived him to be a dirty player. Yappy and annoying and always playing on the edge maybe, but definitely not dirty.

He was clutch. I'm sure you'll remember the following couple of videos, both of which are now part of Canucks lore. Both games were in the playoffs, and in both, the Canucks needed a late goal; Matt Cooke delivered.

Off the ice, Cooke is as good people as good people come. A couple of years ago, he started the Cooke Family Foundation of Hope.

The Cooke Family Foundation of Hope was brought to life in 2006 by Michelle and her husband, Canuck left winger Matt Cooke. The couple both grew up in small towns where the values of sharing with neighbours and helping out in the community were deeply ingrained.

Since moving to Vancouver, the Cookes have always been drawn to social issues and community work and, along with other Canuck families, are still involved in the annual Canucks Dice & Ice Event, The Province Empty Stocking Fund, The Children's Heart Network, JDRF, The Michael Cuccione Foundation, as well as frequent visitors to Canuck Place (a hospice for terminally ill children) and B.C. Children's Hospital. Since the 2006 season opener, the Foundation has purchased a suite at the Vancouver Giants games and donate evenings there to deserving children from various community charities throughout the Lower Mainland.
At the Skate for a Cure, I actually drew Trevor Linden's name but switched with someone so I could meet Cooke instead. (I had met Trevor before at other fundraisers.) The picture below was the picture taken that day.

I'm glad I met the Cookie Monster that day. I'm gonna miss him, though I'm sure many others will as well. If not on the ice, then definitely off it.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 9:18 PM


At February 26, 2008 11:24 PM, Blogger alayna said...

What a great tribute! I'm really going to miss Cookie.

At February 27, 2008 4:56 AM, Blogger Mike said...

Well said JJ.

At February 27, 2008 7:01 AM, Blogger hoopsjunky said...

Thanks guys. Yup, Cookie will be missed here for sure. I still get goosebumps watching those videos.


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