I Understand, I Just Don’t Agree

Posted: August 24, 2011 by JoeyD in NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins

Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review wrote a piece about a tough season for Matt Cooke of the Penguins that went far beyond just his play on the ice.  Cooke’s wife Michelle had a potentially life-threatening situation shortly after the Winter Classic coupled with egregious mistakes on the ice that lead to multiple suspensions made for quite the difficult year to date for the Penguins right winger.

Thus far, the litany of comments in response to the article have been expectantly mixed with both the pro and con opinions coming as no surprise.  In regards to the types of comments that are more negative or those with a general malaise; I understand, I just don’t agree.

Some comments appear to just disregard this as a piece of damage control fluff and that these people aren’t going to fall for it. If there is one thing that I have often felt in the post-lockout years is that the hockey fan, above all other fans, seem to stick to their original opinions no matter what may change over time. Sidney Crosby is a fine example of this as there are people who still have the same complaints today as they had in 2005-06 with total disregard to any change or adjustment that occurs.

I understand, I just don’t agree.

All too often we tend to apply forgiveness and condemnation based on whom we like or dislike as opposed to being willing to separate from our biases and look at things below the surface.  This is a man who nearly lost his wife and people don’t care cause he is Matt Cooke. This is a man who finally appears to be cognizant that he need’s to adjust his play in order to maintain his place in the league and people say a leopard can’t change his spots because he is Matt Cooke. Matt Cooke can’t change because Marc Savard’s career is in jeopardy. Matt Cooke can’t change because he is Matt Cooke.

I understand, I just don’t agree.

We will heap deserved praise for any athlete or sports team we like for all their charity work and for those who are great people outside of their jobs as professional athletes. But when it is someone we don’t like the comments are mostly falling under ‘who cares how good of a guy he is off the ice/field that does not chance what he did to a player on my favorite team’.  The rules always seem to be adjusted to fit our sports versions of the party line.

Again, I understand, I just don’t agree.

You may be reading this and your prevailing thought might be that I am just a Penguins fan and giving the anti-Penguins fans or Matt Cooke haters a hard time because of a blind bout of homerism. Well, you would be wrong, I’ve always had a bit of Devil’s Advocate in me and always try to look at multiple views of things and try to not rely on snap judgments based on emotion. You don’t believe me do you? Don’t worry, it’s ok, I am not offended.

I understand, I just don’t agree.


  1. John Russo says:

    Your argument makes sense in a way: people overlook all the good one man can do because of one incident. As an Eagles fan, people won’t care if Mike Vick brings Philly a ring and does so much good in the anti-dog fighting campaign, he’ll still be labeled as an animal killer (which already is stupid).

    BUT the near-death experience Cooke’s wife had does not exclude what type of player he is. The person he’s off the ice, which is what matters in the real world, does not excuse the type of player he is. He’s a goon on the ice, a complete selfless jackass. But off the ice, where it counts the most, he’s a good person.

    It just baffles me that some players can be so two-faced. Tie Domi is the sweetest guy in the world I’ve heard but what a scumbag on the ice. Same with Riley Cote.

    If Cooke wasn’t a real life Jekyll and Hyde, I think people would be a little more susceptible to labeling him for of who is he than what he is.

  2. JoeyD says:

    I think that the article gets taken the wrong way due to how it was written. It gives the impression that the personal life and the on-ice stuff are somehow linked.

    I think the important part of the article that gets ignored is he is actively looking to change his ways. Yet there is no credit to the guy wanting to take needless and careless hits out of his game. That he has to change who he is on the ice before we can ‘humanize’ him…huh? Really?

    People hate players, in any sport, like Matt Cooke and don’t want to see the guy improve his image in anyway because people may have to change their opinion. Something most sports fans seem to have, even myself included at times.

    I just don’t see why I can’t see some comments like ‘I dont like the guy but I am glad to hear he wants to change his game for the better and hope he does, both for himself and other players in the league. I am a bit skeptical myself but let’s see if he comes thru with what he says.’

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