The Hurricanes have made a few changes to their blue line already this season, one of which was signing veteran defenseman Ian Cole Wednesday to a one-year contract worth $2.9 million.
Cole has played 595 NHL games for the Blues, Penguins, Blue Jackets, Avalanche and Wild, and won Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017.
Cole spoke to the media via Zoom on Friday, here’s a full breakdown of everything he had to say:
On his decision to join the Hurricanes: The whole UFA process is a bit stressful, and as always, they think you have a handle on it and you never quite do, so we’re wading through teams and situations. The opportunity to come play for the Hurricanes came up and in my career, winning and trying to win a Stanley Cup is really the only goal, to win hockey games and win the Stanley Cup. So I wanted to go to as good of a team as I could possibly be on, and the opportunity to play for the Canes was one that I jumped on immediately.
On if he has any friends on the Canes: I don’t have any friends, I’m hoping to make some. No history, but some of the guys reached out after I signed, and they were seemingly very nice. I hear about the Canes family, so I’m looking forward to being a part of it.
On what separates Stanley Cup winners from other teams: I think talent is certainly a huge aspect of that. A lot of times, the most talented team wins, but I think looking at a team like Montreal, that’s not always the case. I don’t think anyone would say Montreal was the most talented team, and they got to the Cup finals. So I think there needs to be a very clear and committed-to team game, team formula. Defense in this league now is not just the defensemen playing defense, it’s all five guys. And on the flip side of that puck, it’s all five guys playing on offense too. I think to kind of project that onto the Hurricanes’ roster, I think that you very much have those guys that have the ability that all the forwards come back to play defense, and all the defensemen can play defense, and then obviously all those guys can go and play on offense. It needs to be a five-man, the five guys that are on the ice need to play a team game, stay committed, stay connected, and I think that’s something the Hurricanes have excelled at for the past couple years, and I think will only continue to grow and get better at. That’s a huge aspect of being successful in the playoffs.
On his impressions of the team: Especially going into PNC, it was always a challenge. I don’t know how it seemed to you all, but playing against the Canes, and especially in Raleigh, the first 10 minutes or first period were an absolute fire drill trying to keep up with them. I always thought they were one of the best teams we played every year. I don’t know if it was just the teams I was on, but they always seemed to give us a ton of trouble. Like I kind of alluded to earlier, it’s a five-man team game with everyone coming back to play defense and everybody going to play offense and everyone sacrificing and being committed to that. I think when you have a team like that, that does that very well and sticks to that game plan, you see the kind of consistent success that a lot of these great teams and great organizations have had and certainly like the Canes have had now for multiple years.
On if he sees his role with the team as a veteran, shot blocking and penalty killing presence: I think that’s certainly some descriptors that have been used to talk about me as a hockey player. I like to think that I still have the skills to make plays to get out of our end and get out of our end cleanly and make all the right passes and get things going in the offensive zone, but also all of those things as well. I think that to be a good player in the league nowadays, you have to do everything and you have to be able to create chances when you get the opportunities and certainly play defense and shut teams down. Obviously, some guys are more slanted one way or the other, but I don’t think that anyone can be all in on one aspect and not be a well rounded player. But the Canes are certainly on the cusp, and hopefully I can come in and contribute anyway that I can.
On if having the chance to play for Rod Brind’Amour had any impact on his decision: Yeah, it definitely did. He definitely has the accolades and the awards that I think he has very rightfully earned, but I think on top of that, you hear about the culture that he’s grown with the team and his commitment to the team and that’s really appealing to me. I think to have that sustained success over the course of multiple seasons and playoffs, you need to have that commitment to the team. I think to have a guy at the helm of the team like Rod, who had all the skill in the world but also the intangibles and the leadership, I think is a fantastic situation to come into. I’m just very, very excited to step into that culture and be led by someone of that stature.