Penguins left winger Matt Cooke made a conscious effort two years ago to change his game, to pare it down from mean and nasty to tough and smart.
It has been a success, with his penalty minutes dropping and his NHL suspensions for blatantly illegal plays falling to, well, none.
But he might never stop fielding questions about his reputation as a dirty player, regardless of whether it's still deserved.
Friday night, he was still being asked about a Feb. 13 incident when his skate blade inadvertently sliced the Achilles tendon of Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson -- even though Karlsson and the Senators had just been eliminated by the Penguins, 6-2, in Game 5 at Consol Energy Center.
Asked if perhaps getting through the series without any lingering hostilities spilling into the games was a chance to turn the page, Cooke said, "I hope so."
In the teams' traditional handshake line on the ice that marks the end of a series, Cooke's exchange with Karlsson was brief.
"I just said, 'Great series,' " Cooke said. "That was it."
Cooke successfully ignored the vitriol aimed at him from fans and Senators management -- including owner Eugene Melnyk.
"At the end of the day, it's still a freak accident and I felt terrible about it at the time," Cooke said. "I'm just glad that he's back playing. I didn't expect there to be anything [carrying over] in this playoff series because winning the series is most important."
Cooke carved out some attention for himself in other ways in the series. Friday, that included a prominent role in the opening goal.
The Penguins already seemed to be the more intense team when a savvy play by Cooke set up that goal, in the first period.
He carried the puck into the right circle, with Ottawa defenseman Jared Cowen closing in. It appeared as if Cooke made a decision not to shoot the puck or try to outmaneuver Cowen. He dug his skate blades into the ice, sending up a spray as he curled away from Cowen.
Cooke insisted it wasn't as skillful as it might have looked.
"I actually lost the puck and Cowen skated by it," he said. "I stopped on it."
Cooke sent a cross-ice pass to defenseman Mark Eaton, who was streaming over the blue line and into the opposite circle. Eaton threw the puck toward the net, where Brenden Morrow was waiting.