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06-22-2006, 12:56 AM
The Czech Condor
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Originally Posted by Edge
I just don't think he falls into that category. Most players don't go from 18 goals to 40 THAT late.
Even in the lockout year he wasn't lighting the world on fire.

For every Erik Cole there are a ton of other guys who never take it up to that next level.
First of all, if you're operating under the assumption that I have been dumping on the Rangers for not seeing the brilliance that is Erik Cole, that isn't what i'm trying to do. He could have very easily never produced with all his great talent the results that he produced last year. For some players the chance never meets the skill never meets the opportunity. For Erik Cole, it worked out.

There are a few things you have to consider in this equation as well. Paul Maurice was a trap coach during the years in which Erik Cole was a young player and he was influenced to a great extent by that style of play. He wasn't encouraged to use his speed to create chances, Carolina under Paul Maurice employed a controlled breakout every offensive time up the ice. In part because they had to break the trap of the other team, in part because our defensemen were too slow to play the counter game. This is also the old NHL where obstruction and everything goes. Cole also played on a line with Rod Brind'Amour and Bates Battaglia. That line was the designated checking line for a great deal of time. Even Rod Brind'Amour, who has had his career brought back to life in the new system Laviolette has employed, wasn't posting point totals that matched the trajectory of his career to this point and his career after the Maurice days. They really didn't inspire a lot of offense with the system they ran. Cole was lucky to get that many goals, in my estimation. Checking line players that get little to no powerplay time usually don't get many chances to score especially in the old NHL. If anything, this speaks to his great potential.

Originally Posted by Edge
How does his production in Europe (which was again not spectacular) translate into 40 goals and 80 points without injury?

I really don't see that, even during the lockout he wasn't THAT dynamic.
I have heard Cole say that his major factor for playing that year was to work on his playmaking and overall understanding of offensive hockey. Having played trap hockey for as long as he did, it can be hard to adjust to a system like Peter Laviolette was trying to employ. He took a long look at the system, and decided he was going to be looked to for a more offensive role. He went and played in the DEL with the Berlin Polar Bears and from all accounts that I have heard, was far more dynamic than shows on the score sheet. He didn't really attempt to be a goal scorer because those instincts were already pretty well developed. He used that time in the DEL to get used to playing a more free flowing style of hockey and getting used to using his linemates and getting a better grasp of how offensive hockey is played. It worked out for him, needless to say.

Originally Posted by Edge
25 goals, even 55 points would have been a break out year, but we're talking about almost tripling his goal average and doubling his point totals. That's a bit more than breaking out and that's why I don't think anyone could have said a year ago or even at the start of the year that Cole was going to hit those numbers.
To be totally honest with you and at the risk of being called a homer, I expected those numbers. The 55 points and 25 goals. I assumed after hearing about his progress in the DEL and the new system and the highly enforced obstruction calls that Cole was due for a year like he would have normally been having if not being forced to fit his dynamic game, the square peg, into the trap system Maurice was trying to employ, the round hole.

Even while he was posting those moderate numbers, having watched him for as long as I had afforded me the opportunity to scout his game pretty well and I saw a more dynamic player than he was getting credit for. I hardly call that an ephipany, because if you were watching as many Hurricanes games as I was you would have seen the same thing. For a great deal of people not watching Carolina, it came as a total shock. For most Hurricanes fans with a bit of hockey accumen, it wasn't as shocking as the production of Eric Staal.

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