Penguins left wing Matt Cooke sat by his locker Thursday afternoon, looked up and smiled. For the first time in a week, Cooke was all alone.

It must have been quite a relief.

Consider what Cooke has endured during the past week:

• After delivering a hip check to Boston defenseman Andy McQuaid, Cooke was bashed by broadcaster Jack Edwards, who compared him to Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan.

• Before Monday's game against Ottawa, NBC commentator Mike Milbury referred to Cooke as a “skunk.”

• Fans in Ottawa organized an anti-Matt Cooke rally before Monday's game because of their belief that he intentionally stomped on the back of Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson's Achilles tendon, causing a significant injury.

• The Ottawa Sun published consecutive opinion pieces that referred to Cooke as “dastardly,” among many other more negative, controversial descriptions.

These days, Cooke brushes it all off his back.

“You know,” Cooke said, “personal attacks from announcers … they're paid to give their opinion. It's the world we live in.”

It's also the world Cooke's family lives in.

Cooke, a husband and father, has discussed the criticism with his family.

“I've told my kids and my family that we've had to deal with stuff a lot worse than this,” Cooke said. “Just take it in stride.”

Cooke leans on his family during weeks like this and also feels a particular sense of gratitude toward everything about Western Pennsylvania. Having Pittsburgh as his home and the Penguins organization by his side, Cooke insists, has made the adversity of the past week far more tolerable.

“Thankfully we're in a great place like Pittsburgh,” he said. “The team, the fans in Pittsburgh and the organization has always been so supportive of me. It's made it so much easier on my family to have Pittsburgh.”