“It’s a player who fills a need on this team,” said general manager Pierre Gauthier. “He’s fast, big and likes to go to the net. He’s a good complement to our finesse players.”
The plan is for Cole to help out offensively, of course, and to give the Habs a boost in even-strength action. He also brings a physical element, good for 225 hits last season. Cole finished last season with 26 goals and 26 assists in 82 games.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that the last couple of years Montreal has had a bit smaller players than a lot of other teams,” said Cole. “I’m not the biggest body on the ice, but I play a harder-nosed game than some guys and try to use my skating to be a strong player, be effective against the boards and take the puck to the net.”
After earning $3 million in the 2010-2011 season, Cole gets a pay raise with the Canadiens and will earn $4.5 million a year. For the nine-year NHL vet, the selling point on the deal was the no-trade clause. Apparently quite a few other teams were interested in his services, but Montreal’s was the best offer.
“It’s my favourite building to play in,” he said. “The feeling you get going into Montreal, the passion, the city, it just has an aura about it. I don’t know how you can go in there and not play well. It’s a passion that can drive the team north or south.”
The move continues the Montreal makeover that started a couple of years ago. They only have four skaters remaining from the club two years ago, in fact, and currently have 19 players under contract with $8.3 million left on the cap.