Unlike most of his hockey-playing brethren, Erik Cole can’t wait for his work stoppage to begin.
“I’m hoping to get locked out by the end of this week,” he told the Montreal Gazette on Wednesday.
It might seem like a bizarre comment to make, but do consider the circumstances — Cole’s been declared unfit to play hockey since late April, when a (self-admitted) premature return to the gym resulted in a lower-body injury.
Since then, he’s been in the loophole/vortex of collective bargaining in which injured players can remain in the care of their team’s medical and training staffs, and have access to all workout and treatment facilities.
In short, Cole’s allowed to go where few of his union mates are.
Not that he’s enjoyed the experience.
“It’s been miserable,” he said. “I was perplexed when the MRI came back and said everything was fine. So why was I still having pain if the tear was healed? The most frustrating thing was that, based on how I was feeling, I expected something to be wrong.
“It ended up just being a nerve that was inflamed and trapped in some scar tissue. But it’s been great since that calmed down.”
At 33, Cole wants to get back to skating and practicing with teammates as soon as possible. It sounds as though he’ll soon begin participating in La Tournee des Joueurs — the barnstorming Quebec caravan tour — but won’t head overseas like he did during the last lockout, when he suited up for Eisbaren Berlin of the German league.