They say actions speak louder than words. It helps when the words are heartfelt and sincere, but ultimately, yes, the appropriate actions need to be taken.
Matt Cooke, for the first time as a Penguin and perhaps the first time ever, has owned up to his recent actions, namely the elbow to the head of Ryan McDonagh. Cooke says he made a mistake, took responsibility for it and said "I realize and understand, more so now than ever, that I need to change."
At his in-person hearing for the elbow, Cooke was not interested in offering up a defense nor did he want anyone else trying to make excuses for what he did.
That's all well and good. And Cooke seems contrite. He seems sincere. We haven't seen this side of Cooke before. It's a refreshing change.
But it won't mean anything if he gets into further trouble. Will his words allow him to stay a Penguin until and unless that happens? Unfortunately, I feel we'll see that scenario.
It's easy - OK, really easy - to say Cooke doesn't deserve any more opportunities to clean up his act. It's easy to believe he'll screw up again.
It's difficult, if not nigh impossible, to sympathize with Cooke, even if he's saying the right things at the moment. However, it is tempting to see if the long suspension, the lost wages (nearly $220,000), the very real possibility of losing his job in a city and with a team he enjoys, and perhaps most importantly the loss of his teammates' respect serve as the kick in the ass Cooke needs.
Another adage comes to mind: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice (or five times), shame on me.