Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Sad Cost of Improvement

Well, my Caroina Hurricanes took a major step in shoring up their shaky defense yesterday, but it came with a big price tag. The Canes acquired talented young defenseman Joni Pitkanen from Edmonton yesterday in exchange for popular star forward Erik Cole. The deal makes sense - Carolina was overloaded with a glut of talented forwards but in dire need of help along the blue line following the retirements of Glen Wesley and Bret Hedican from what was an already thin corps. Pitkanen brings youth (24 years old), size (6'3", 210), and scoring potential (averaging 36 points per season over his career) to the Canes, but Cole will be dearly missed. He came into his own in the Canes' run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002, developing an eye for the net and a reputation as a tough team player. He approached local legend status when he played in the final two games of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals after suffering a broken neck earlier in the season. He's the consummate pro - a great guy on the ice, in the locker room, and in the community - and he'll be dearly missed. As a going-away tribute, here's a video of one of my favorite Cole moments. Last year against Minnesota, Canes star center Eric Staal was the victim of a cheap shot that plowed him head first into the boards. Who comes flying off the bench to stick up for his injured teammate? #26.

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