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Old stomping grounds

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

RALEIGH – The Habs enjoy a welcome change-up from their usual road-routine in Raleigh thanks to the help of Erik Cole.

You don’t spend nine seasons as a member of Hurricanes without ending up with some pretty nice digs in Raleigh. More than happy to offer his new team a chance to break the mould of a standard road-trip, Erik Cole played host to the Habs Tuesday night at his Carolina home.

“Pretty much all the guys came over to my house as well as few friends from back home. It was great; we had some good food, we were able to throw a couple of games on the TVs and we have a pretty good space for entertaining some guests so it was nice,” dropped Cole, who with the exception of a 63-game stint with the Oilers in 2008-09, spent his entire NHL career as a Hurricane.

Erik Cole visits Carolina

"It’s good to break up the general routine of the road sometimes. It’s usually just the hotel rooms, a restaurant and back to the hotel, so it was nice that we all got to have some fun,” added the 6-foot-2 winger. “Plus it was nice to get to sleep in my own bed Tuesday night.”

Clearly appreciative of the hospitality, linemate David Desharnais already has an idea in mind of how he plans to repay No.72.

“It was definitely a nice change of pace and it felt great to get the chance to relax in someone’s home. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about dealing with any of the dishes – he was the one who got to take care of that. Hopefully I can make some nice passes to him tonight and make it up to him that way,” said Desharnais, who along with Cole currently has 12 points in the Habs 2011-12 campaign.

“I’ve personally never dealt with moving to a different team, but he played here for a long time, won a Stanley Cup here and had some great moments in Carolina. It’s probably pretty special for him to come back,” finished Desharnais. “We beat Carolina in our building last time, now we’re playing on their turf. They’re just two points back from us, so tonight should be a really big game.”

With the Eastern conference standings tighter than ever, Jacques Martin will be counting on the return of veteran Hal Gill on Wednesday night to help ensure the Habs fly out of Carolina with a big two points in hand.

“I feel good right now and it was nice to get out there this morning and feel like I was ready to play,” expressed Gill, who will be seeing his first taste of action after being sidelined for four games. “When you come back from any injury or sickness, I think you want to try and keep things simple and keep them short, try to rely on your teammates and do things as straightforward as you can.

“In the end it doesn’t take long,” said Gill. “You take that first bump, that first hit and you get into the game and things go back to normal.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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