FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 5, 2006
RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has signed left wing Erik Cole to a three-year contract. The deal will pay Cole $4 million per season.
“Erik has developed into a dominant power forward,” said Rutherford. “His size, speed and skill make him the ideal player for today’s NHL, and he is one of the cornerstones of our team going forward.”
Cole, 27, established career highs in goals (30), assists (29) and points (59) this season despite missing the final 22 games of the regular season with a compression fracture in a vertebra in his neck. The Oswego, NY, native completed the 2005-06 season ranked first on the team and tied for seventh in the NHL in game-winning goals with eight, and ranked first among Hurricanes players in plus/minus (+19), first in shooting percentage (18.3%), fourth in goals (30) and sixth in points (59). Cole attempted five penalty shots during the season – one short of the NHL record – and became the first player to attempt two penalty shots in one game when he was awarded penalty shots on two separate plays in the third period at Buffalo on Nov. 9. A linemate of Eric Staal and Cory Stillman for most of the season prior to his injury, he earned his third career hat trick and matched his career high for points in a game (4) on Jan. 31 at Montreal.
Cole suffered the injury to his neck on March 4 when he was boarded by Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik with 5:18 left in a 7-5 Hurricanes victory – in which Cole had scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season. Cole returned from the injury in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Edmonton and skated in the Hurricanes 3-1 victory in Game 7 as Carolina captured its first Stanley Cup.
Cole (6’2’’, 200 lbs.) has completed four NHL seasons for the Hurricanes, totaling 78 goals and 90 assists (178 points) and 254 penalty minutes. Drafted in the third round (71st overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Cole has tallied nine points (6g, 3a) in 25 career playoff games for Carolina. He represented the United States at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, notching one goal and two assists (3 points) in six games.
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