Marshall Independent sports editor David Merrill sat down with Minnesota Wild player Matt Cooke during the Minnesota Wild Road Tour Wednesday at Lockwood Ice Arena. Cooke spoke about the success of the tour, the Wild offseason activities and about looking ahead to next season.
Q: Tell me a little bit about what this tour is promoting and what the goal is
Photo by David Merrill
Minnesota Wild members stopped in Marshall Wednesday as part of the Minnesoa Wild 2014 road tour. Representing the Wild were color commentator Mike Greenlay, former goaltender Wes Wahls and Wild left wing Matt Cooke.
C: The tour is about getting out and see people who don't normally get to see the Minnesota Wild. The biggest thing for us is the amount of support we've gotten in our four stops. It proves that, not only in the Twin Cities is the Minnesota Wild relevant, but it is throughout the entire state.
Q: What has the offseason been like for you?
C: Up until this point, you take a few weeks off to get some rest and get re acquainted with your family. We spend so much time away and on the road, that as soon as you're done, it's time to reinsert yourself with your family. That has been a really good time for me. I've been able to get to my kid's sports and stuff, but I already started to workout and stay in shape. You get into a routine and start ramping up again for September:
Q: What is your favorite NHL memory?
C: By far, my favorite NHL memory is winning the Stanley Cup. That's a huge accomplishment and something I'll never forget.
Q: What was your welcome to the NHL moment?
C: It was kind of a whirlwind for me. As a 20 year old, I got a chance to stay with the Vancouver Canucks and didn't expect it and didn't know how to handle it, really. I was just so overcome with emotion when I played in my first game. It was just so exciting, to live a life long dream as a kid and have it come true is pretty amazing.
Q: You guys had plenty of ups and downs this season with (Zach) Parise going down around Thanksgiving and then having to win your last eight of ten games against playoff teams. What were you guys able to do to fight through those tough times?
C: Great teams are able to overcome injuries and are able to overcome bounces and tough losses. A strength of our team throughout our season was our resilience, but it speaks volumes to the character and the personnel that are in the locker room. To be able to go out and perform when you're give the opportunity. Doors were opened for some young guys and they stepped up and played well. The emergence of our young players is going to make us a better team moving forward.
Q: You guys had an exciting series and tough loss against the Blackhawks, what were some things you guys talked about following that loss?
C: The biggest thing is, is that its the toughest trophy to win. The Stanley Cup is hard to win and experience plays a big part in that. Your first time to the playoffs, you're not going to win the Stanley Cup. It takes a lot of experience. This past season was a building block, especially off the previous season. Like I said, younger guys stepped up in the playoffs and it just sets ourselves up to further our goals heading into next year.
Q: What are the team's goals for next season and do you have a certain team circled on the calendar?
C: I don't think so. Any time you play a team that played longer than you, you use it as a benchmark. The biggest thing for our team is to go out and have a more consistent regular season. We lost our game at certain points last year. We lost our identity, but down the stretch we went out and figured out what the Minnesota Wild were all about. We played like we knew it. I think we need to carry that into the beginning of the regular season this year, which will set us up for having more success in the playoffs.
Editors note: Cook has won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburg Penguins in 2009 and been to the playoffs 11 times.
He led the team in hits last season and skated in his 1,000th NHL game.