BROSSARD – Classic cars and partying with friends of Stanley. Not a bad way to spend a summer holiday.
If you happen to find yourself in Raleigh, North Carolina, and notice a 1964 Lincoln Continental cruising with the top down, take a look at the driver’s seat – you may just recognize the wheelman.
“I did a little work on it in the spring. Nothing too major – just a few adjustments. I’ve driven it a lot already this summer,” explained Erik Cole, the Canadiens’ top goal scorer of 2011-12. “The kids love taking rides in it, so I take them to go get ice cream a lot. It’s a really great car to have.”
Cole’s reputation among friends and family as an automobile aficionado is nothing new and goes all the way back to his days growing up as a kid in Oswego, NY.
“One of my best friends’ dads owned an auto-body shop and he had his own personal collection of Fords. We spent a lot of time around those cars. I think that’s really when I started to take an interest in automobiles,” shared Cole. “In high school, I worked on a few different projects with my sister’s boyfriend at the time while he was trying to fix up his truck to sell it. I always thought it was great to be around people who really knew their cars.”
As much as he might love sitting behind the wheel of his favorite classic car, Cole has no qualms about leaving any major work under the hood to the experts.
“I’m not at the point where I can do all the work myself. I have a few friends that have lifts in their garages and they offered to teach me how to do things,” continued Cole. “But I think I probably prefer letting them take care of things – especially with the Lincoln. There’s a reason they’re professional mechanics after all.”
Aside from coasting down the Carolina highways, Cole has plans to close out his summer with a visit to an old friend … while taking the opportunity to get reacquainted with another in the process.
“We’re going to be taking a family vacation for the first two weeks of August. Well, the first week we’ll be going as a family, and then for the second, I’m going to meet up with my good friend Willie Mitchell for his Stanley Cup celebration since he just won with the Kings. I told him that we would be there to spend a few nights, not just with him, but with Stanley too. It’s probably going to be exhausting, but a lot of fun,” grinned Cole, who enjoyed his own day with the Cup back in 2006 when he hoisted it as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
According to Cole, he and Mitchell’s friendship dates back to when the two played as teammates for Clarkson University. The Habs’ power forward was happy to share the advice he handed down to the L.A. defenseman in the wake of his championship season.
“I basically warned him when he won the Cup to prepare himself because he was going to have an absolutely crazy summer. He recently told me that I was right,” said Cole, reflecting on the amount of preparation that went into his own celebration. “My wife told me that the next time I win the Cup that we’re going to go to a desert island. We’ll just tell people where we’re going and if they want to come join us, they’re welcome. It takes a ton of work and it can be a huge headache getting ready for that party.”
As much work as it might be, we’re willing to bet it’s a headache Cole would be more than happy to pop some aspirin and deal with should he find himself in his friend’s shoes come next summer.
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Justin Fragapane.
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