After months of speculation that it was coming, Ian Cole has been traded to the Ottawa Senators along with goaltending prospect Filip Gustavsson and a 2018 first round pick in exchange for Derick Brassard.
Such is the life for Cup contenders in the salary cap era, even more so when you have a cap crunch coming off of back-to-back Stanley Cup wins and have your eyes set on a third.
Ian Cole was a good soldier for the Penguins, a super intelligent hockey player, and a key cog in what it took to repeat as Champions. This one is tough.
Looking back to when the Penguins acquired Cole
In Jim Rutherford’s first season as GM of the Penguins, he acquired what would be one of the earlier of his “reclamation projects,” in finding players who weren’t succeeding in their current situation and perhaps not meeting expectations of where they should be. In Ian Cole’s role, he was a former 2007 1st-round pick out of Notre Dame. Flash forward to 2015, and he’s been a fine player, nothing dazzling, and in need of a change of scenery. In comes Rutherford, who sends Robert Bortuzzo and a 7th-round pick to St. Louis in exchange for Cole.
Down the stretch in the 2014-15 season and going into the playoffs, Cole quickly became heavily relied upon. In the playoff series against the Rangers, despite losing in five games, Cole showed what he could provide, often logging nearly 30 minutes per game in the absence of Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff. Fun times playing with five defensemen!
Winning a Stanley Cup
Moving forward to the 2015-16 season, Ian Cole was another player who appeared to be thriving in a new role with a new team now under Mike Sullivan, a guy who seemed to make everything look good. He would finish the season with 12 points – a career high for him. Something that became of notice to everyone was his willingness to put his body on the line and block shots. It was non-stop.
One of the funniest memories I have from this Cup run was when Cole took the THIRD STRAIGHT penalty for delay of game against the Capitals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal.
It’s especially funny because the Penguins won the game, the series, and then went on to win the Cup.
And how can we forget about this HUGE goal that he scored in Game 4 of the Cup Final against the Sharks?
It ultimately ended up being an enormous score, as the Penguins would add another goal to go up 2-0, hold on to win the game 3-1, and take a 3-1 series lead as well.
Cole would be the first NHL player from Ann Arbor, Michigan to win the Cup, and he took it back home and was very well received.
Repeating as Champions
Another year, another fully grown in ginger beard, another Cup run.
And of course, another celebration.
Ian Cole is a really good guy
This is something you hear from everyone involved in the media circles around the Penguins. They can’t say enough good things about the kind of person that Ian Cole is for them to work with. This here says it all.
Inside the locker room, many can attest for his funny and free-spirited relationship with the media, his playful nicknames for some of the journalists, his willingness to do hilarious videos for the Pittsburgh digital content creators, and his general lively personality. You can just tell that he’s a great teammate to have and is an even better person.
Going for a Three-Peat
In this current version of the story, that has the Penguins attempting to win their third straight Stanley Cup, Cole has again showed his willingness to do whatever it takes. He’s been the team’s battering ram – always looking to make the big hit or block the big shot.
Thank you all for the concern, down a few good teeth and some jaw but doing well. Looking forward to getting back ASAP pic.twitter.com/NNAARACaDs— Ian Cole (@ICole28) October 8, 2017
Even going back to the dentist (again) and prepping for his eventual surgery after the Josi slapper, he cracked jokes about how he used to have such nice teeth and how he kept forgetting he didn’t have anything to bit down with when eating. It was such a humble, hockey guy response and a delight to watch.
It’s not easy to say goodbye to players who have come to Pittsburgh, found success, and done everything asked of them as part of a team that won together.
All the best to Ian Cole in the next step of his career.
Collectively, from all Penguins fans, thank you.