Local News

Canes hope 'Cole Factor' will boost ticket sales

Posted March 6, 2009 11:10 p.m. EST
Updated March 7, 2009 6:56 a.m. EST

— Amid a tight economy that cuts into families' entertainment budgets, the Carolina Hurricanes hope the re-acquisition of Erik Cole from Edmonton will boost attendance at the RBC Center.

Cole, 30, was one of the team's most popular players for six seasons until he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in July 2008. Cole returned from a broken neck to help the Canes win the Stanley Cup in 2006. He also helped the Canes reach the Cup finals in 2002.

“He has been a part of the team for a really long time, and he has always been one of my favorite players,” Hurricanes fan Katie Turek said.

Cole brings size and a lot of speed. When the Canes have been at their best, they have been quick, and that is Cole’s game.

“I thought it was a good move. We definitely need a little spark for the playoff run, and hopefully, he can do it,” Hurricanes fan Stan West said.

The Hurricanes haven't reached the postseason since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Cole totaled 129 goals and 280 points in a Hurricanes jersey after the Hurricanes drafted him in the third round of the 1998 draft.  He is fourth in goals scored by Hurricanes players since the team relocated to North Carolina a decade ago.

“He gives (Eric) Staal the room to score, because he's the intimidator for the other guys. He's got the speed. He'll hit you. It's great,” Hurricanes fan Sean Lorichon said.

The goal off the ice was for Cole's popularity to translate into profits for the team's bottom line.

“He's a big, big fan favorite,” RBC General Manager Dave Olsen said.

Olsen says having a popular player like Cole back in a Hurricanes jersey makes good business sense. During his previous tenure with the Hurricanes, Cole's jersey was third in sales, behind Cam Ward and Staal.

“When you get a key player back in the organization – a fan favorite – you hope that it equates to better tickets sales, better merchandise sales and people coming to the games,” Olsen said.

The Hurricanes average around 16,000 fans a game. For Cole's first game back Friday night, more than 18,000 fans packed the RBC Center. The team crushed the Calgary Flames, 6-1.