"I don't know because they have never given us a number of what they want. That's a tough one to answer. All I know is that all along he's said he wants to check free agency."
Those were Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford's words Thursday on what Erik Cole's status was after the team's signing of Jussi Jokinen. No matter what offers Cole received once he hit the market, he was going to give Rutherford and the Canes the chance to match it.
Well, Cole tested the free-agent market and signed a four-year, $18 million deal with the Montreal Canadien, a deal too rich for the Canes' liking. Rutherford wasn't in the market to overpay for a player when the team has some youngsters that could be plugged in to fill that ice time.
Adding to their forward depth, the Canes went out and signed Alexei Ponikarovsky to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. Ponikarovsky spent last season with the Los Angeles Kings; it was a season cut short by a groin injury.
Rutherford said Ponikarovsky wasn't a replacement for Cole and that he's still on the hunt for another forward.
Our question now becomes what will happen to Cole's Grassy Knoll, the famous tailgating spot outside of RBC Center where we had much fun during All-Star Weekend?