The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded annually by the NHL to the “player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
It was announced this past Saturday that the Pittsburgh chapter of Professional Hockey Writers’ Association voted Penguins forward, Matt Cooke, as the 2012 Penguins candidate.
Cooke has drastically changed his game for the better this season. It has been translating into goal-scoring for the 33-year-old who is playing in his 14th year with the league (fourth with the Pittsburgh organization). Fourteen years is a long time to have under your belt before considering a change in your style of play, but that’s exactly what Cooke has successfully done.
Currently, he has more points than penalty minutes (31 P, 30 PIM) while in previous years, the two haven’t even been close having more PIM (2010-11: 30 P, 129 PIM). That’s without mentioning the two suspensions he was handed last season (the latter of the two extending into all four games in the first round of the playoffs). He has also surpassed his season-high for goals with 16. According to the Pittsburgh TribLIVE, Cooke remains humble about his transformation:
“It’s an ongoing process for me,” he said. “It was a different process for me. It’s never going to be over with. I’m honored. I’m thankful that I’ve had the support I’ve had from my teammates, the coaching staff, management, ownership, the fans, and my family, first and foremost. The help, and patience, and commitment to me have helped.”
Cooke’s hard work and dedication to change hasn’t gone unnoticed by others outside of the locker room and the nomination for the Masterton trophy is proof that. Although, his focus remains on his game according to PittsburghPenguins.com:
“Any of those accolades are great and it’s a huge honor for me,” Cooke said. “But that’s not my focus.”
Whether or not Cooke is awarded the Masterton trophy, there is plenty of positive things that have come out of his efforts this season and hopefully one of the biggest for him and the team is yet to be accomplished.