Erik Cole came on the scene here in Carolina during the magical 2001-02 season as a rookie when the Canes surprisingly made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Eventually, Erik was placed on a line with Rod Brind'Amour and Bates Battaglia. That turned out to be a fruitful move for Coach Paul Maurice because the line started to light the lamp up regularly. In the playoffs when they became most dominant, they were affectionately called the "BBC Line".
The forward worked hard on his game and developed electrifying, breakaway speed. Speed that can create opportunities for his team-mates as well as for himself. Speed that will help to generate countless penalty calls.
Cole had his share of injuries over the years, but always worked his way back into shape and usually made a return to the ice sooner than expected. No one will ever question his heart, or his love for the game.
He's had a ton of important goals, hits, and plays for the Canes over the years, but in my opinion the skater will be missed just as much for the little things that he did off the ice. Things like-
- He participated in many charity events.
- He would never turn down an autograph request.
- He mentored a young Eric Staal when he first came into the league.
- He gathered the pucks out of the net in practices.
- He was in charge of the music in the locker room.
- He was an inspiration to his team-mates and to fans when he came back to the ice in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006.
Erik Cole seemed to be like one of us, a "Normal Joe" from Oswego, with whom most fans could identify. He will be missed.
Good luck number 26, and farewell for now.