Within minutes of learning of the trade that would send him back to Raleigh, Erik Cole was on the line with his homeys. Things just weren’t working out in Edmonton, and it looked like a change was something both Cole and the Canes needed in March. So the Cole family packed up and moved back to Beverly. And a rejuvenated Colesy generated nearly a point per game over the last 17 games of the regular season.
|2008 - Erik Cole||80||18||24||42||0||73||5||0||1||1||178||10.1|
Then came the playoffs…Cole didn’t score a goal in 18 playoff games. He did create opportunities, and the Smurf-Canes desperately needed his physical presence to create a little chaos and opportunity for the finishers. Cole finished the 2009 playoffs with five assists. He logged three of those five while Canes were being steamrolled by the Pens.
Erik Cole is a great guy to have in your clubhouse. He respects the game. He embodies the hockey ethos we all love and the younger guys look up to him. Even in Edmonton where his shaky play led to snipes in the press and from the Oil faithful, he remained the consummate pro.
Despite a history of shattered bones and ruptured tissues, Erik Cole still shows no hesitation in driving the net. Playing on a line with Erik looks like it would be a blast. You can bet he will work his tail off to create opportunities, and all you have to do is swoop in on a rebound...if he gets a shot off...and it's on goal.
The Erik Cole of 2005-2006 was the embodiment of the modern power forward. Then he got Orpik’d. Erik rehabbed the rest of that spring and made a dramatic return to the ice for Game 6 of the ’06 Cup playoffs. Canes win! BuffaSlug fan whines! All is right in the world in the summer of 2006.
Flash forward to the summer of 2009 –BuffaSlug fan is still bitter and Erik Cole has scar tissue from head-to-foot and a Gerald Ford quality wrist shot. Mileage and the youth and athleticism of the competition have conspired to diminish the impact of Erik Cole. The one big thing that used to separate Cole from the pursuit, breakaway speed and a powerful stride…TWO BIG THINGS that used to separate Cole from the pursuit - no longer seem to be there. (a Ginsu Knife set to Hockeymomof2 if she can id. that reference). Defensemen are now wise to the signature duck-n-drive power move, and they know that if they draw him into the corner, chances are he'll crash into somebody or something and take himself out of the rush back up ice.
Wily veterans find a way extend their careers by contributing in new ways. The old rough-and-tumble Erik Cole needs to evolve into a headier, playmaking Erik Cole if he wants to extend his career beyond the next season or two. I love Erik Cole. I think he's great for the game and great for the Canes franchise. I still hold my breath when he corrals the puck and heads up ice with only six men to beat. Truth is, he needs to become more than an aging Kamikaze with hands of feet.
Right before last weekend’s NHL entry draft, JR offered Cole a two-year deal. No bite. Cole’s agent, Steve Bartlett, told the Observer’s Chip Alexander that negotiations would probably extend into July. Last season, Erik made $4 Mil. He won’t get near that amount on the open market, and he probably knows and accepts his new reality. I’ve said before, I think Chad LaRose will explore the open market, but I think Cole will return to the sightless eye for two years at $2.5 Mil per. Momma likes being back in Raleigh, and if momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy.