Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 07/01/09 at 08:48 PM ET
Even though it seemed like the Erik Cole chapter was finally over, it continues. Today, the Hurricanes and Erik Cole agreed to terms on a two year deal that will pay him $2.8M in 2009-10 and $3M in 2010-11. The 30-year old right wing was paid $4M in 2008-09.
I gave up on him a long time ago, and I’ve written in a number of ways and on a number of times that I’m not a big fan of his anymore. Now I’ll be forced to either stand my ground or eat my hat. Honestly, I hope I’ll be eating my hat, but either way it’s a good sign that he agreed to take a pretty significant pay cut.
After the Canes won the Cup in 2006, Cole signed a three-year deal which paid him $4M per season. He was the player with the most trade value in the summer of 2008, and was traded to the Oilers in exchange for a much needed offensive defenseman Joni Pitkänen. Erik underperformed this past season, thanks in part to Craig MacTavish not having any idea what to do with him in Edmonton. He spent time on the fourth line. He spent time playing left wing. He wasn’t being used properly. At the trading deadline, he was sent back to Carolina, and he helped Eric Staal’s game a lot. Unfortunately, his own game wasn’t quite what anyone expected. Then, he had an absolutely dreadful playoff season, tallying just five (0/5) points in 18 postseason games.
Canes fans will hope that Cole can rediscover his scoring touch, or at the very least pick up where the regular season left off in terms of his chemistry with Eric Staal.
Apparently, the opening day of free agency didn’t go the way Cole was hoping/expecting. The fact that he signed for considerably less than what he was paid this season suggests that there wasn’t any real interest in him. I’m guessing that this is even less than what the Canes “final” offer was.
“It’s important for a professional athlete to make money but it’s also important to be with a team and among people you want to be with,” said Steve Bartlett, Cole’s agent. “We told Jim (Rutherford) we would not drag this out ... but we did want to make an informed decision.
“Erik’s excited. He’s got a Hurricane (logo) tattooed somewhere on his body.”
According to the same N&O story that announced this, there has been some thirteenth hour progress in the Chad LaRose talks.
Since Jokinen signed for a discount and Cole signed for a discount, there’s roughly $1.25M extra cash laying around. This might come in handy in the LaRose negotiations.
Don’t forget, also, that the Canes could stand to add a defensive defenseman.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.