Audio: Habs sign Cole, Budaj; Hamrlik, Halpern join Caps, Pouliot to Bruins, Auld to Senators


New Canadiens forward Erik Cole, signed for four years and $18 million this afternoon.
Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

• Carolina Hurricanes forward Erik Cole brings his grit and durability – 26G, 26A in 82 games last season – to Montreal for four years and $18 million in the Canadiens’ major unrestricted free agent signing today.

AUDIO: Erik Cole conference call | Habs GM Pierre Gauthier

Video of Erik Cole taping his stick. One more thing you now know about him:

• Peter Budaj is in, Alex Auld is out: Budaj is signed to a two-year, $2.3-million contract to back up Habs starting goaltender Carey Price. Auld, meanwhile, returns to the Ottawa Senators for the same $1 million he earned in Montreal last season.

• Roman Hamrlik: 2 years, $7 million to Washington, and possibly a partner for Mike Green; Jeff Halpern: one year $825,000 to Washington.

Benoit Pouliot in a Bruins jersey, for $1.1 million. Who’d have thought that?

• Jaromir Jagr, who many believed would be wearing a Canadiens jersey next season, signs for a year with Philadelphia. Says here that’s just as well.

• James Wisniewski signed six years and $33 million with Columbus – stunning money. The Blue Jackets had exclusive negotiating rights with the defenceman, a mid-season acquisition by the Habs, until 12 noon ET today, and Wiz agreed to terms an hour before that. This gives Montreal a fifth-round draft pick in next June’s entry draft.

AUDIO: James Wisniewski conference call

I had a one-on-one interview with Erik Cole five springs ago, the Hurricanes in town for the playoffs, Cole sidelined with a fractured neck. (A few interesting parallels with Max Pacioretty five years later.) We sat in the stands at the Bell Centre as the Canes took part in their morning skate. Our talk yielded this story:

Young gun on mend
Erik Cole can only watch and envy Hurricanes teammates
as they play Habs in playoff series while he recovers
from broken neck suffered eight weeks ago

Published Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Gazette

On Monday, doctors in Raleigh, N.C., will remove the cervical thoracic brace from around the broken neck of Erik Cole.

And then the Carolina Hurricanes left winger will hold a special ceremony for the plastic-and-steel support that’s been clamped to him almost every minute since early March.

“I’m going to run over it a few times with my Cadillac,” Cole said yesterday. “And then I’m going to drive at least a few miles down the highway, dragging it behind the car.”

He vows there won’t be even a single bolt left to sell on eBay.

It was eight weeks ago today that Cole was crushed head-first into the boards by Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik. The check produced a compound fracture of Cole’s C5 vertebra, a hit from behind that doctors say came within fractions of an inch of paralyzing one of the NHL’s top young stars.

Monday, Cole will shed the hard brace and be fitted for two weeks with a less rigid collar, “just to remind me that I broke my neck,” he said, “so I don’t snap my head from side to side.”

Yesterday, the 27-year-old from Oswego, N.Y., stood at the boards during the Hurricanes’ morning skate at the Bell Centre, remembering what it was like to be on the other side of the glass.

He’s eager to get back on skates, of course, though there’s no firm timetable for that. Cole was having the best season of his four-year NHL career when he was injured; he had 30 goals, eight of them game-winners, and 29 assists in 60 games.

He is healing well, since the frightening idea of surgery was floated six weeks ago, and Cole’s presence in the dressing room has been an inspiration for his teammates.

“It’s going to be pretty emotional stepping back on the ice with the guys, whenever that will be,” he said.

But sooner will come the joy of again scooping up his children – daughter Bella, 4, and son Landon, 21 months – and of being less reliant on his wife, Emily.

“In the last eight weeks, I’ve put my children to bed maybe five times, and putting my little guy to bed is great, because his personality is really starting to come out,” Cole said. “It’s not easy when he’s trying to climb up your leg and his mother has to say: ‘Let Daddy rest.’ ”

This might be the only way the Canadiens could have kept Cole off the scoresheet. He was poison in three regular-season games against Montreal this year, scoring five goals on only six shots – including a Jan. 31 hat trick – and adding three assists.

On Wednesday, and again last night, Cole inhaled this city’s unique playoff air from the press gallery, wishing he’d been on the ice seven storeys below.

“It’s pretty miserable sitting upstairs,” he said. “You’re so close to being a part of the energy, but you’re not. It’s hard to come to this building, because I love playing here. This is such a great hockey atmosphere.”

Many times Cole has replayed the Orpik hit that fractured his neck. The Penguins defenceman, who was suspended for three games, bristles at charges from the Hurricanes and others who label it a cheap shot, and has suggested that Cole shares the blame, saying he turned and ducked just before impact.

“I didn’t know that my neck was broken,” Cole recalled. “I’ve been hit hard before, and I’ve had stingers. But the jolt that went down my arms was a lot more severe than anything I’ve ever felt.”

He was transported to a Pittsburgh hospital, and returned home the following day wearing only a collar. When Raleigh doctors believed the vertebra might be moving, he was fitted with a more restrictive brace – the same one that will wear Cadillac tire treads on Monday.

Cole says that late last month, Orpik tried to get his cellphone number from Mark Recchi, who had been traded to the Hurricanes from Pittsburgh five days after the check.

“I told Mark to tell him not to bother. I wasn’t interested in his call,” Cole said. “At that point, I felt a call was more for his benefit than for mine, of him trying to clear his conscience.

“It’s up to a player to make decisions out there. Things happen quickly, and you choose to take advantage of situations or you don’t. Accidents will happen, and there are always going to be mistakes and misfortunes.

“But I think his first comments told me how he really felt about this. I definitely look forward to next year, when we get to play Pittsburgh.”

Cole’s rehabilitation did not at first include coming to Montreal for Games 3 and 4 of this series. But when the Hurricanes lost the first two at home, he got clearance from his doctors and was welcomed by head coach Peter Laviolette.

“I think my wife was ready to kick me out of the house, too,” he joked. “She was a little worried about my being comfortable on the road, but she also understood it would be good for me.”

And what fun to goof around with teammates and trainers, “because they run away, knowing they can’t fight back.”

Cole and his family will spend the summer in Raleigh instead of returning to New York state. They’re eager to enjoy the weather and the beaches, and will be close to his doctors, should they be needed.

“This is a week at a time,” he said of his recovery. “I’ll have to get my range of motion and strength back. Then have another X-ray to rule out ligament damage. If there is, it will require surgery. But getting out of this brace will boost my spirits, for sure. With that, healing will come more easily.

“I feel very fortunate that this wasn’t much worse,” Cole said, wistfully watching his teammates breeze around the rink. “I’ll never take for granted being able to pick up my children.”


  1. Un Canadien errant says:

    Someone was quick on the draw, Wikipedia is already updated with Cole as being a Montreal Canadien.

    Price is a little steep, 4 years is a long term for a 32 year old, but in this climate we weren’t going to do any better.

    Andrei Markov is looking more like a bargain every minute.

    Let’s do something like this again: 1) Mike Cammalleri 2) Brian Gionta 3) Hall Gill

  2. showey47 says:

    Awesome signing. A tad expensive but welcome to july 1st.

    • Sportfan says:

      Awesome signing im very happy with it! I feel he might be getting a bit too much but I’m still very happy with getting Cole!

      Question though how much money do we have left on the cap? Can we sign some bottom 6 guys or do we only have enough to resign Gorges and White???

  3. Kramby says:

    We got Cole! 🙂

  4. Propwash says:

    Auld to Ottawa

  5. longbow says:

    So remember,when we play Washington,shoot the puck in on Hammer’s side and slash him on the way by !

    “Wanting is often more pleasurable than having.It is not logical but it is often true.” – Spock



    aK 47 — pleks —- cam
    with pachioretti we have some options here

  7. HalifaxHabs says:


    Cole signs… 4 years 4.5 mil… it’s slight overpay, but only slightly. I love it. Played 82 games last year, big boy, 32 yrs old, 26 goals, 200 hits.

    ok, there’s still Gagne, Leino, Fleishscman, Belanger and Konopka

    • Stuck_in_To. says:

      I’m not overly sold on Cole. Was hoping for Fleischman but there you go.
      Wonder if Cole can light a fire under Gomez?




      Cam Barker to Edmonton is a waste. Keep throwing an underachiever into deep water and he’ll eventually drown.

  8. habstrinifan says:

    Cole! WOW! PG’S doing GREAT!

  9. Habs1st says:

    Very happy with the Cole signing!!! Good to see some size on Montreal, to go along with Pac’s size!

  10. HalifaxHabs says:


    Cole signed… 4 years 4.5 mil… it’s slight overpay, but only slightly. I love it. Played 82 games last year, big boy, 32 yrs old, 26 goals, 200 hits.

    ok, there’s still Gagne, Leino, Fleishscman, Belanger and Konopka

    • habstrinifan says:

      GOOD STUFF ManApart. If we make summit together I owe you two rounds!

      Hey HalifaxHabs! BOOM is right! Couldnt have said it better!

  11. slapshot777 says:

    Nice signing, Habs get some size and some goals. I say he plays with Cammy and Pleks.

    To you from failing hands we throw the torch, be yours to hold it high.

  12. SeriousFan09 says:

    Erik Cole to Montreal, just doubled up our Power Forward count.

    Cammy-Pleks-Cole, Pacioretty-Gomez-Gionta, AK-Eller-Desharnais, that’s a pretty first three lines.

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.
    SF09 on Twitter

  13. kempie says:

    ***K YEAH!!!!!!! NICE.

  14. Vid says:

    Cole at 4.5M per for 4 seasons

  15. secretdragonfly says:

    Budaj, eh? I don’t know, the fact he has Ned Flanders on his mask doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

  16. Bugs says:

    Yes! Unnnh! Cole will fit in perfect imo.
    Richards now.

    Gone figuratively fishin filibusts L. B. Potter, esq.

  17. RockinRey says:

    Cole done 4.5/yr!! Very nice pay day! And the Hammer with Wash!!!!

  18. icemachine says:

    Erik Cole 4 years 18M according to Bob. Awesome

    Its time to switch to whiskey, we’ve been drinkin’ beer all night


    ERIK COLE 4 year 18 mil 4.5 mil

    to MONTREEAL !!! yeah baby!!

    hammerlik to WASINGTON 2 year 7 mil


  20. PeterStone says:

    Cole done. 18M for 4yrs

  21. HardHabits says:

    Erik Cole to Habs: 4 years at 18 million = 4.5 million per

  22. RockinRey says:

    Cole done 4.5/yr!! Very nice pay day!

  23. t1tan5 says:

    McEnzie confirms: Cole with habs 4 year/14 M

  24. TorontoHabsFan says:

    Cole is intriguing to me. In this market though I suspect we wouldn’t be able to get him for less than 4 yrs at $4m-$4.5m/yr. A bit steep, but I think I could live with that.

    I think he’ll bring in something like 20g and 30a/yr. Although it remains to be seen what kind of player he is without Staal.

  25. Bugs says:

    Attaboy, Hamr.

    Gone figuratively fishin filibusts L. B. Potter, esq.

  26. PeterStone says:

    12M$ for Ward. More Insanity.

  27. Rob says:

    posters here are funny…clamouring for signings but don’t want to give them too much money or term. If you’re gonna sign someone on July 1, you’re going to give them a lot of money and/or term. IF the Habs sign Cole, I’m guessing the length and amount of the contract will make some people crazy! Either way, it would still be a good move.

    The Montreal Canadiens: sporting the best AND worst fans since 1909!

  28. phillyhab says:

    via Erik Cole’s Wikipedia page: Canadien.

  29. habsfan0 says:

    How I’d like to see today end:
    Habs sign Eric Cole and Brad Richards.
    Habs then trade Scott Gomez to Florida Panthers for a month’s supply of Tropicana Orange Juice.

  30. Un Canadien errant says:

    Diversion: Charlie Sheen was on steroids when filming the movie ‘Major League’.

    I can’t help but think that’s cool. The man tried to look believable as a big league pitcher. Nice.

    Let’s do something like this again: 1) Mike Cammalleri 2) Brian Gionta 3) Hall Gill

  31. Propwash says:

    HIO server running out of gas?

  32. Critical-MASS says:

    So we sign Peter ”the toker” budaj…..way 2 go goats!Baaahahhahhhh

    …..You’ll never get to heaven if you’re scared of getting high…..

  33. t1tan5 says:

    Habs are having serious talks with Cole, apparently. He would be a good addition to the team if the price is right.

  34. HardHabits says:

    ArponBasu tweeted: Of course, Cole is not signed by #Habs

    More idiocy: Roman Hamrlik signed for two years @3.5 million per with the Washington Capitals

  35. prankstergod says:

    TSNBobMcKenzie‎: Last dispatch I got vis a vis MTL and Erik Cole: “Very close.” and ward to caps

  36. HardHabits says:

    ArponBasu tweeted: Of course, Cole is not signed by #Habs

  37. RGM says:

    I’m jazzed by the prospect of Cole. He won’t get to be #26, though, just like Budaj won’t get to be #31.

    During the long summer, we all get to be pretend GM.

  38. Gindan69 says:

    As an aside on Budaj, many of the habs on twitter are welcoming him to the team, some called him a great guy and teammate so that may have been another reason for signing him. He’s got a good locker room rep.

  39. mike3131 says:

    I really wish we could’ve kept Auld. I think he’s as good, if not, better than Budaj and would’ve come at a cheaper price.

  40. mike3131 says:

    I really wish we could’ve kept Auld. I think he’s as good, if not, better than Budaj and would’ve came at a cheaper price.

  41. SeriousFan09 says:

    Budaj or Auld, it’s pretty much a wash for me. Issue will be how healthy the D is this year so it’s less dangerous to play the backup.

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.
    SF09 on Twitter

  42. Mike D says:

    My only concern with Cole is how much term we give him, if we sign him. He’s already 32 and I hope it’s isn’t anything longer than 3 years (4 MAX).

    – Honestly yours


    I wonder if PG was going after brian bouche, ahh welllllllllllll

  44. ManApart says:

    Come on PG, Cole and Joel Ward and I won’t bash you anymore.

  45. BJ says:

    We still have not taken care of our greatest need, toughness and size.


    ID love to have erik cole 20 golas and 200 hits he he he

  47. TorontoHabsFan says:

    Do we remember towards the end of last season when exactly no one here had any faith whatsoever in Alex Auld to win a game? He got blown out in 2 or 3 games in a row.

    I thought that was a bit of an over-reaction but I also don’t think that Auld was the answer going forward at backup. Budaj should be an interesting backup – his numbers last year were awful…but he was playing behind a truly awful defence too.

    I think he’ll do no worse than Auld did – and can start between 15-20 games (which should help ease the wear and tear on our Franchise)

  48. habs001 says:

    the question is how good is budaj when he does not play for 3 weeks…some goalies cannot come in cold….

  49. RockinRey says:

    Cole has been injured a lot lately! about 4 or five years too late

  50. HalifaxHabs says:

    ok, new update for the good guys we can still get that could have an impact on our line up

    top 6 – Gagne Leino Cole

    bottom 6 – Belanger, Ward

    am I forgetting anyone?

  51. RockinRey says:

    I like Vokoun!! Not sure he would have come for backup money!

  52. HardHabits says:

    Dregger and Basu reporting Habs close to inking Cole.

  53. BJ says:

    Closing in on Cole?

  54. Bugs says:

    Erik Cole???

    Gone figuratively fishin filibusts L. B. Potter, esq.

  55. Hobie Hansen says:

    Hold your breath…ERIC COLE just maybe????


    Sounds like Montreal is closing in on Erik Cole. [via Twitter]

  57. habaholic68NJ says:

    PG. Hopefully you are not done. If you cannot get Richards, go after Cole and Konpka.

    *Listen to my instrumental tribute entitled “Habs at War” at

  58. durocher says:

    Well, at least Richards is still out there… as are Erik Cole and Anthony Stewart

  59. MocaJoe says:

    George McPhee has done a tremendous job so far in Washington. Getting the 266(league leading) hitman Troy Brouwer to provide that skill team with grit, locking up Laich longterm, adding faceoff specialist and hustle player Jeff Halpern, along with last seasons additions of Dennis Wideman and Scott Hannan on D to solidify their back end and provide great mentoring for Karl Alzner and Jon Carlson. And now he gets a 1st and 2nd round pick from the Ave’s to make way for future stud Braden Holtby to take them where Varlamov never could.

    Oh yeah, and need I mention Wash’s equivalent of the “Big Three” are still in tact on their top line.

    These caps are starting to look like a team that will certainly handle the Bruins. And unless Crosby picks up right where he left off will handle the pens as well…

    If only PG had the brains to put the puzzle pieces together…

  60. HardHabits says:

    Habs sign Aebischer 2.0

  61. Jim Edson says:

    Budaj, strange signing!

    At least it proves Goatier isn’t out BBQ’ing vegetables or similarly preoccupied by non-hockey issues.

    …..My empire is crumbling, my international sponsors are deserting me, my authority is questioned, I am held in contempt wherever I go.

    Who am I: Mohamar Ghadaffi or Gary Bettman.

  62. icemachine says:

    Handzus and Cole are still available, bring those guys in and forget about Marchand – who may be just one headshot away from retirement

    Its time to switch to whiskey, we’ve been drinkin’ beer all night

  63. habstrinifan says:

    Rupp gone! First piece of bad news! DO IT PG DO IT!


    Peter Budaj, a devout Christian with a son and wife.

  65. Propwash says:

    OMG PG signed someone?! Quick, break out the pitchforks and torches!

  66. habstrinifan says:

    Based on this signing, PG is thinking RIGHT! Youth with potential.

    Love the signing. Even at that price.

    You doing great PG. KEEP IT UP! I got your back!

    You are tellingme that you smell early success!



  67. Habs1st says:

    Not sure I like the Budaj signing…. But not sure who else is left for a back-up either.

    Would like to see the Habs get Erik Cole and (no I’m not crazy) Simon Gagne! If he can stay healthy, think he’d do good in Montreal.

  68. thehabsfan29 says:

    Rupp gone to NYR

  69. durocher says:

    Nevermind, Rupp has signed with the Rangers

  70. durocher says:

    I’m hoping PG signs Rupp

  71. deuce6 says:

    Budaj has been a starter in his career…Surprise McGuire doesn’t like it..*rolls eyes*..

    Guys, it isn’t as though he will play a lot,


    Yes, I’m a Hab fan..Wanna fight about it?

  72. Mattyleg says:

    Budaj? Ok, fine. So here’s hoping that will assuage some of the maniacs on here who insist we sign someone just so that we sign someone.

  73. JayBee says:

    hahahhahhahah Budaj.

    Keep drinking the koolaid Hab fans. Current management is incompetent.

  74. Hobie Hansen says:

    There goes Rupp….OH WELL!

  75. icemachine says:

    Habs sign Peter Budaj (G) for 2 years, 1.15M AAV, went 15-21-4 last year in COL, 3.20 GAA on an 0.895 SV%

    I think it would have been better to keep Auld as the chemistry between him and Price was good, but Budaj should be an adequate backup especially with a reduced workload

    Its time to switch to whiskey, we’ve been drinkin’ beer all night

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