Matt Cooke was born September 7, 1978 in Belleville, Ontario. The seventh choice, 144th overall selection of the Vancouver Canucks in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Cooke is a graduate of the OHL.
A gritty offensive forward, Cooke played three seasons in the OHL (1995-1998) with stops in Windsor and Kingston. His most productive season came in 1996-97, when he led the Windsor Spitfires in scoring with 95 points (45-50-95) in 65 games. Upon graduating from the OHL, Cooke made his professional debut in 1998-99, splitting his time between the Canucks and their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. After splitting one more season with both clubs, Cooke became a permanent fixture in the Canuck lineup in 2000-01.
Over the course of his first three full seasons with the club, Cooke saw his offensive numbers increase each season, including a career best 42 points (15-27-42) in 2002-03. Coming off a career year in 2002-03, Cooke was limited to a mere 53 games in 2003-04. After a missing 17 games with a jaw injury in the 2005-06 season, a healthy Matt Cooke competed in 81 games with the Cancuks the following season.
His 2007-08 season saw him compete in 61 games with the Canucks before he was dealt to the Washington Capitals for Matt Pettinger on February 26, 2008. As a member of the Capitals, Cooke helped the young squad into the playoffs for the first time since 2003. However, after the club was eliminated from the playoffs he signed in the off-season with the Pittsburgh Penguins as an unrestricted free agent, a decision that would prove to be one of the best of his career. In a 7 game epic Stanley Cup Final, the Penguins would dethrone the Red Wings and earn the franchise's third Stanley Cup title.
On the international stage, Cooke has represented his homeland at the World Junior Championships and helped them capture gold at the 2004 World Championships.