Left wing battled with Canucks' Cooke

Updated: February 20, 2004, 8:03 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The NHL suspended Minnesota left wing Matt Johnson for five games on Friday for slashing Vancouver's Matt Cooke in the Wild's 6-2 win over the Canucks on Thursday night.

Johnson will forfeit $32,361.11, based on his average annual salary and the terms of the league's collective bargaining agreement. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

His contract called for him to earn nearly $1.2 million this season.

Johnson has five goals and one assist this year, but he's Minnesota's primary enforcer on the ice.

On Thursday night, Johnson and Cooke -- two old rivals from last year's second-round playoff series -- argued for most of the game. But things really got heated in the third period when Johnson was ejected from the game after the referees ruled he intended to injure Cooke by slashing him across the chest.

Cooke retaliated by spearing Johnson in the midsection, breaking his stick. He was penalized four minutes for roughing and received a 10-minute misconduct.

The suspension comes at a bad time for the Wild, who are fighting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Johnson will miss games Feb. 22 against Colorado, Feb. 26 at Nashville, Feb. 27 at Dallas, Feb 29. against Carolina and March 3 at Anaheim.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press