Bruins sent me gift basket for knocking out Cooke


“He was a dirty, dirty player.”

Edmonton Oilers' Evander Kane (91) prepares for a face off against the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the NHL hockey Western Conference Stanley Cup playoff finals, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Dallas.
Evander Kane made headlines for knocking out Matt Cooke in his rookie season in 2010. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Matt Cooke made plenty of enemies in the NHL with his reputation for delivering cheap shots out on the ice.

The Penguins’ pest is particularly reviled in Boston for his role in prematurely ending the career of Bruins star center Marc Savard via a blindside hit.

Cooke’s high hit against a defenseless Savard on March 7, 2010 led to severe concussion issues for the playmaking forward. Confined to rooms in “total darkness” for months after the hit, Savard missed the remainder of the regular season in 2009-10.

He only played 25 games the following season before a clean hit from Matt Hunwick knocked Savard’s head into the glass. The 33-year-old forward never played another NHL game after that.

Cooke never spoke to Savard after the hit, nor did the Penguins forward receive any sort of fine or discipline for it.

Cooke — who was knocked throughout his career for delivering cheap hits and dangerous moves against top players like Erik Karlsson and Ryan McDonagh — did receive some on-ice retribution a little over a month after his hit on Savard.

But it didn’t come from a Bruins player. Rather, it was via then-Thrashers rookie Evander Kane — who knocked out Cooke with a single punch during a scrap in Atlanta’s regular-season finale on April 10, 2010.

Kane, who is still playing in the NHL and is competing in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final with the Oilers, was a popular man in league circles for doling out some punishment against Cooke.

In fact, Kane said on a recent episode of “Pardon My Take” that the Bruins even sent him a gift months later for knocking out Cooke.

“He was a dirty, dirty player. … When it happened —  I mean, I probably watched it, I’m not even over-exaggerating, 300 times,” Kane said of the video of him punching out Cooke. “And then I got, I actually got a gift basket from the Boston Bruins later that year in the offseason because of what he did to Marc Savard.”

Kane, who has 1,186 penalty minutes in his 15-year career, was initially worried that he severely injured Cooke with his haymaker punch — but didn’t feel much contrition after the Penguins forward delivered another cheap shot in their next meeting.

“Cooke kind of asked me to go early in that second period, I believe it was,” Kane said. “And I was more than happy to oblige, and ended up knocking him out. And I remember sitting in the penalty box for, like, in real-time, it was like 20 minutes, and he still was not off the ice. I’m thinking, ‘Geez, I don’t want to be the first guy in my first year to kill somebody.’

“Because he wasn’t moving. So I was happy to see him get up. But then the very next season, he elbowed me right in the chin, and didn’t want to fight me again. If you get knocked out, I want to fight that guy the very next time I have an opportunity, because it can’t go any worse for you.”

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