Several weeks ago the Hockey News had a cover story on NHL free agents and Matt Cooke was on the front page. He’s not a 30 goal scorer and he’s not going to win the Hart Trophy but he was a huge part of the Penguins’ success.

The Penguins signed him to a three year deal today. He could have been an unrestricted free agent July 1st.

Ray Shero may have gotten away with one here.  It had been looking like he had made a mistake by not signing Cooke before his value went up and his value went way up with the way he played in the post season.

Cooke is one of those guys you hate with a passion if he’s playing for the other guys.

Penguins fans should love the fact that he’s going to be here for three more years.

By the way, I’d be fine if they dropped the first puck tomorrow. Anything to get the Pirates out of the news.

  • Bob G. Wyeth

    Cooke is Ruutuu with talent. Good sign for Shero.


    • JohnSteigerwald


  • Joe Bunda

    Awsome. Cooke is a great agitator, not the calibur of Gary Roberts, but who is? Besides, anybody who irritates Boston fans is a good guy in my book.

  • Sarcastic Sword

    I like the signing too…..Staal keeps his left winger…I might be in the minority but I prefer to take the money that Gonchar was making and make an effort to sign Volchenkov from the Senators..They need a physical hammer on the blue line beyond Orpik..Orpik is a great open ice hitter but isnt that successful clearing the front of the net..

    • blasto

      After what I saw Gonchar do( or not do) on the 4th goal in game 7 I have no interest in him any longer. Goligoski and/or Letang can fill his role eventually. Volchenkov and/or Sutton with that cash…

      • JohnSteigerwald

        I tend to agree. I just wonder what will happen to the power play without Gonchar. He’s the only defenseman they had who could put the puck on net.

        • Mike

          Letang would be great if he could hit the hit more consistently.

        • Dutch

          Malkin is more important to the Power play. They went 0 for 26 on the PP without malkin in the Lineup. Sid went 5 games without scoring when malkin was out of the lineup. Gonchar was a -15 this past year against top level teams. That was the worst of any Pens player. In fact, in the 1st 12 games, the pens went 10-2. Gonchar was a minus is nearly every one of those games. Gonchar is done. Cook was a great signing.

          • JohnSteigerwald

            Crosby has to have somebody on the end of those passes who can bury it and without Malkin there’s nobody who can pass it to him.

  • Dannyboy

    Gene Collier wrote nice column today about how the Pirates can screw up a trade but the bankrupt Rangers don’t. Hope you like it Niblick.

    The Pirates blow. Go Pens.

  • Jason C

    HAHA…….great last line of your post John, anything to get the pirates out of the news……. 106 more days till the first game. Seriously though, that was a great signing and iam glad to see him come back. Let me ask this, rumor is that they are talking about Volchenkov. My thinking is that Shero is up to something, the cap has been raised and i honestly dont think that Gonch is coming back, do you think they can get Volchenkov cheeper and do you think he will make a inpact?

    • JohnSteigerwald

      I haven’t heard any rumors but Volchenkov would be a game changer. The Penguins have to be hoping he doesn’t end up in Washington.

      • Mike

        The Caps have some cap room to play with and not a bunch of holes to fill. I have to imagine he’s near the top of their wish list.

  • Arnie

    Excellent signing. Glad to have Cooke in the fold. Now, please let Mario and Burkle buy the Pirates!

    • Jason C

      oh my god i so agree with you arnie.

    • Frank

      The only problem I see with trying to find Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin a long-term and “legitimate” winger is that there not many to choose from on the open market this year. If you look at the list of options out there, I have to wonder if we are better off either trading for one at some point this year or waiting until next seasons free agency period?

      Defensemen are a different story. If fiscally possible, I would absolutely love to see us go out and sign Anton Volchenkov. He would be my first choice. Zbynek Michalek and Andy Sutton are two other options I wouldn’t mind Ray Shero exploring over the next few days. Outside of Brooks Orpik and after losing both Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi, our defense looked soft and lacked balance.


      We can sit in front of our television sets during this upcoming season and wonder why Gonchar looks “slow” and “old” after giving him a 3-year deal worth $5.0 million a year or why our defense in general looks “soft” and is incapable of shutting down the oppositions top forwards.

      Frankly, I would prefer this option…

      • JohnSteigerwald

        Given a choice…I’d take Volchenkov in a minute. I don’t know if they’ll have that choice.

    • a-dawg

      Can we forget about Mario and Burkle buying the Pirates. The economics of baseball is broken. If Mario and friends bought the Pirates – it would be a feel good story….but they would be in the same mess as the current Pirates in no time. Then this would tarnish Mario’s image.

      The Pens would be in the same shape as the Succos if it wasn’t for the NHL work stopage and subsequent salary cap.

      I am as big a Mario fan as the next guy, but sometimes it is smart to protect the image. Even if it means not saving another Pittsburgh institution.

  • Frank

    I love the signing. He was the one Penguin free agent forward I was hoping we would be able to bring back.

    Shero retained a guy who is great in the locker room, plays a gritty/physical game, agitates, is great on the PK and is capable of putting up 30-35 points a year. All for under $2.0 million a year. Well done.

    As it stands right now, we have over $12 million in cap space heading into the draft. In my opinion, it’s now time for Shero to let Gonchar walk and find himself a physical defensive-defenseman and a winger for Crosby or Malkin on the FA market.

    • Niblick

      I agree with you on finding a true winger for Crosby and Malkin. Especially Malkin. If you look at who he had to play with this past year you can’t help but shake your head. Shero has done some great things here but hopefully he won’t let Crosby and Malkin get past the prime of their careers playing with bums.

      • Richard

        The problem with finding a true winger, especially this year, is that there is nothing on the FA market. Also, good wingers cost money that they will not have a lot of room for under the salary cap with or without Gonchar.

        Don’t be surprised if Bill Guerin is retained. He’s old, and he’s losing his touch, but so is every other FA winger on the market, and he’ll probably come cheaper.