Patrick Kaleta was recently given a 10-game suspension from the NHL's Department of Player Safety after a hit to the head of Columbus' Jack Johnson. Though Kaleta is appealing the decision, it's clear that the repeat offender has made his mark on the NHL and the league is trying to send a message. That message boils down to change your ways or be prepared to pay the price.
As it turns out, one player who is awfully familiar with the NHL discipline system has offered to help Kaleta change his ways. Matt Cooke has reached out to Kaleta and offered to talk to him as a player who has successfully cleaned up his game.
You'll recall that Cooke received his fair share of NHL discipline before shaping up his game and cutting down on his penalty minutes. He went from being one of the dirtiest players in the league with 100+ penalty minutes a season to one trying to help his team win while posting 30-45 PIM a season.
In an interview with ESPN, Cooke revealed that he offered to help Kaleta reform his game.
I told him, 'I’ve been there, it’s not fun.’ It’s hard. I laid it out there that if he wants to know what I did, I’d gladly talk to him about it. He knows Pommer (Jason Pominville), so I told him `If you want to get hold of me, I’m there to talk.’
He also went on to elaborate on how he changed his game and how watching video played a major role.
During my suspension, with either [Dan] Bylsma or [Tony] Granato, I probably watched about 30 or 40 hours of video; watching players that play a physical style.
The hours of video work I did seriously helped me. The work that I put in has helped me not only take the risky plays out but also become a more effective player. I’ve got a way more active stick on the forecheck, and I’m more aware of my surroundings, which has helped me offensively.
Whatever Cooke is doing is working. He's not only avoiding dangerous plays but he's also contributing offensively in 2013-14 with six points in seven games for the Wild.
Kaleta would be wise to take Cooke up on his advice. Kaleta's next suspension will make his current 10-game ban seem like a slap on the wrist.
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