It’ll still be a few weeks before the Canucks forward can get back in the gym, but given the fact that just two weeks ago he had surgery to repair a painful sports hernia, Cooke is excited about his recovery.
Looking relaxed wearing jeans, a hoodie and his wire-rimmed glasses as he served as guest coach at Saturday’s MPS Cup fund-raising hockey game at the North Shore Winter Club, the grinding winger figured his most recent medical procedure was one of the most tolerable he’s been through in his career.
And when it comes to receiving medical attention, Cooke, unfortunately, knows his stuff. After all, in the past two years, he’s been plagued with ankle, jaw and concussion problems.
And he missed all but the first two periods of this year’s playoffs after tearing a groin in the post-season opener against Dallas.
“Probably this was one of the easier surgeries that I’ve had. Obviously, it’s painful and it creates a lot of pain but it (the abdominal area) is not something that you use functionally all the time. So from that standpoint, you’re not always wearing on it whereas a knee or something else you need that to walk,” Cooke says of the May 28th hernia operation which took just 20 minutes and involved the insertion of a piece of mesh to cover the hole in the abdominal wall. “It was a quick operation; I went home later that same day. But the next day, I couldn’t move.”
After a few days of pain, Cooke says things are progressing nicely to the point where he’s thinking about getting back to his off-season workouts. He’s not there yet, but it won’t be long now.
“It’s been two weeks and I’ll be able to start working out soon and I’m looking forward to that,” he says. “After six weeks, you have no limitation on what you can do and you just go on pain. So I’ll be back to working out 100% three or four weeks down the road and just preparing for training camp like normal.”
The Canucks certainly could have used the feistiness Cooke brings to the mix in their playoff series against both Dallas and the eventual-Stanley Cup champion Anaheim. Coach Alain Vigneault has spoken about his desire to have plenty of grit in the line-up next year and Cooke certainly brings that. But he has also shown an ability to score in the right situations and the 28-year-old was a big part of the Canucks’ second half success last season scoring nine of his 10 goals on the year after Christmas.
Playing together, he and Brendan Morrison both had strong second halves and were a big reason the Canucks had the best penalty killing in the National Hockey League during the regular season.
Cooke and Morrison were so in tune with each other they both required the same off-season surgery as did defenseman Matthias Ohlund. In fact, Ohlund and Cooke had their procedures done on the same day by the same doctor.
“Ohlie went first. It’s one of those seniority things,” Cooke says with a laugh. “He’s a got a few more games in the league than I do, so he went first.”
The hope is that by getting the procedure done sooner rather than later, Cooke, Ohlund and Morrison (whose surgery was done June 7th) will all be ready to start the new season without any concerns. And two weeks after going under the knife, Matt Cooke feels he’s cruising along the road to a full recovery.
Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org