Cole short on playing, long on thrills

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

RALEIGH -- At the start of the series, Erik Cole wasn't sure if he would touch the Stanley Cup if the Carolina Hurricanes won it.

Having taken no part in the Hurricanes getting to the final, Cole was not certain if he deserved to celebrate along with the rest of his teammates if they won.

Last night, you'd have trouble ripping the Cup out of his hands.

The Hurricanes' forward was not supposed to play in the Stanley Cup final. He hadn't played since breaking a vertebra in his back in March.

SPEEDY RECOVERY

Yet, Cole made a speedy recovery and got last-second clearance to play in the final two games of the series.

"I kind of waved back and forth just how much - how much I actually was part of it, having not played a game," Cole said.

"I have been to the finals before, and I know how tough it is to get here, and so I know what the guys were going through and how hard they had to work, and how hard they had to battle to keep playing."

Cole didn't record a point in his two games, but was an inspiration to his teammates.

'THANKFUL'

Three months ago, Cole was sporting a neck brace and his career was in jeopardy after a hit from behind from Brooks Orpik of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Last night, he was holding his head high as he carried the Cup.

"I am thankful that they played long enough to give me an opportunity to come back," Cole said.

"I don't think that I felt a lot better tonight than I did on Saturday night. But I wanted to do everything I could and work as hard as I could to try and just make it tough on (the Oilers)."


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