Matt Cooke is expected to return to the Minnesota Wild's lineup on Friday night as his seven-game suspension has come to an end.
The NHL suspended Cooke for his knee-to-knee hit on Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie. Barrie was expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks with a sprained MCL, but the Avalanche were eliminated in Game 7, by the Wild.
Wild Coach Mike Yeo said he expects Cooke will return during Game 4 on Friday.
The Wild trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals after beating the Blackhawks 4-0 on Tuesday night.
"I would expect him to come in the lineup," Yeo said. "This is a guy that's not fun to play against. This is a guy who helps our penalty kill.
According to Pro Hockey Talk, it will be interesting to see where he fits in the lineup.
Cooke addressed the media on Tuesday.
The Star Tribune reports he did not answer questions about why he didn't appeal the suspension.
In his career, Cooke has been called many things including: goon, thug and low-life to name a few. He knows that many people are going to continue to think he's a dirty player. He has been suspended by the league on seven different occasions, but the hit on Barrie was the first time he had been suspended since joining the Wild.
"People are entitled to their opinions,'' Cooke said. "Everyone's going to have them. It's not my job to go out and change people's opinions. My job is to go out and play the way I can and be successful helping my teammates win.
The Blackhawks will be mindful of Cooke, but they aren't preparing for anything dirty from him.
Chicago's Patrick Kane told the Chicago Sun Times, "He probably knows better now, where he can't make any more hits that are going to affect himself or the team. When a player like that comes back in the line up [if] you worry about that player too much, it only affects yourself in a negative way. He can be an effective player, though."