Cole's a dandy 'Cane

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Erik Cole is a wanted man, but he won't be going anywhere for the time being.

Sources say the Senators talked to the Carolina Hurricanes about a deal for the speedy winger in the off-season, but there haven't been any discussions lately and it doesn't sound like he'll be moving.

Though talks could start again if the Hurricanes falter in the Eastern Conference playoff race, a potential Cole for winger Martin Havlat deal -- which was discussed in the summer -- isn't a reality at this point.

But there's no question Cole would be a good fit for any NHL team that considers itself a contender. He's hard-nosed, a swift skater and was one of Carolina's top performers in the playoff run to the Stanley Cup final against Detroit in 2002.

"The one thing I can say about (Cole) is that he has played extremely well for us," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said prior to last night's 3-2 victory over the Senators. "He's really been one of our top players and he's really been getting the job done for us.

''I feel that he's going to have a career year for us."

The Senators love the way Cole competes, as does Laviolette. He will coach Team USA at the Turin Olympics in February and indicated Cole will be on the squad.

Carolina defenceman Aaron Ward, a longtime teammate, said fans might not appreciate Cole because few Hurricanes games are televised so his exposure is limited.

"You just have to practice against the guy to appreciate his talents," said Ward. "I'm telling you, this guy is unbelievable the way he can skate and the way he moves. I hate practicing against the guy because he can make you look bad."

JUST MISSED IT: Patrick Eaves' goal 14 seconds into last night's game was just one second off the Senators' record for their fastest goal from an opening faceoff. Captain Daniel Alfredsson scored 13 seconds into a game against Toronto on Feb. 2, 2004. It was Eaves' first NHL goal. But with C Mike Fisher ready to return to the lineup Thursday against Montreal, the Senators are expected to send Eaves back to their AHL affiliate in Binghamton today. Still, club brass has been impressed with the young left winger. "It's tough for me to let a guy like Patrick Eaves go, but we have a budget here and we're trying to save money with the salary cap in case we want to make a move later on," said coach Bryan Murray. "We are trying to keep our roster at 20 or 21 players. But I've seen a real improvement in Patrick Eaves and I think he's been excellent. I believe he's come in here and he's fit in really well. I like what he's done."

AROUND THE BOARDS: Senators GM John Muckler was glued to his television at the club's hotel for the past couple of days watching coverage of Hurricane Wilma. That's because Muckler has a home in Naples, Fla., which suffered some damage yesterday. Fortunately, Muckler's family isn't in the area and his condominium is high enough off the ground to avoid flooding. Murray is also trying to find out the status of his home in Fort Lauderdale ... After their game against the Senators on Saturday was postponed because of Wilma, the Panthers decided to leave Florida on Sunday and practice in Pittsburgh, where they play the Penguins tonight. Each Panther was given a 20-page hurricane-preparedness guide before they headed north ... Senators D Brian Pothier would like a chance to go the Olympics with Team USA in February, but he isn't counting on it. "I was surprised to be invited to the camp in Colorado, but it was nice and a great experience. I've never been involved with Team USA in any way. I never played for any of their teams growing up and I haven't been part of the program. I haven't thought a lot about it, but I would love the chance to play for them."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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