RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes announced on Wednesday that the team had signed left wing Erik Cole to a ceremonial contract.
The next order of events at the press conference held at PNC Arena that took place before the Hurricanes’ preseason game against the Tampa Bay Lightning included Cole subsequently announcing his retirement from his playing career in hockey, and Hurricanes President Don Waddell then naming him as team ambassador.
“We had talked pretty openly about the fact that it was pretty disappointing to me, how I really wanted to come back here and do some one-year contracts as long as it worked for me and it worked for them. (I wanted) to help out and teach what I’ve learned from so many great veterans that I played with here when I was young.
“I spent my first summer (2015) when I got back here from Detroit trying to prove doctors wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to this time around. It wasn’t the first time in my career I’ve been told to retire. For the first year, I sulked a little too much about it. I was a little lost and frustrated about not being able to play. But eventually I started getting on the ice with my son and his hockey team and I started finding more important things to do.”
Selected by the Hurricanes in the third round (71st overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Cole played 892 career regular-season NHL games with the Hurricanes, Oilers, Canadiens, Stars and Red Wings, totaling 265 goals and 267 assists (532 points).
He appeared in 46 career Stanley Cup playoff games, posting 14 points (6g, 8a), reaching the Stanley Cup Final twice and capturing a Stanley Cup championship with the Hurricanes in 2006.
The Oswego, N.Y. native represented the United States in international tournaments including the 2005 and 2007 IIHF World Championships and the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.
Cole’s selection as a team ambassador was earned on the foundation he established in 557 career games with Carolina, currently ranking in the top 10 in franchise history in games played, points (363), hat tricks (5), and shorthanded goals (8).
He was one of four rookies in franchise history to record a hat trick in his rookie season, notching three goals against Atlanta on Dec. 21, 2001, and he matched a franchise record with nine game-winning goals during the 2010-11 season.
Cole netted 30 goals during the 2005-06 season before suffering a neck injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 4, 2006.
He returned to action just over three months later, skating in the final two games of the Stanley Cup Final for Carolina.
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