So much was made of it last July, when the trade was made. The Canes sent popular Erik Cole to Edmonton for puck-moving defenseman Joni Pitkanen.
The trade was discussed through the summer — all the pros and cons. Pitkanen, once in Raleigh for preseason training camp, faced question after question from the media about Cole, about the trade, of the pressure of coming in and replacing a big fan favorite.
And then, on Wednesday, Cole was sitting directly across the Canes' locker room from him.
"It's kind of a funny thing," a smiling Pitkanen said today. "I didn't expect that. But he's a really good player and should be a good player for our team."
Pitkanen played against Cole when Pitkanen was with the Philadelphia Flyers and Cole with the Canes. There was a little ice time Nov. 1 when Cole returned with the Oilers.
"I know he's very fast and a very good skater," Pitkanen said. "He was always dangerous and fast on the outside."
Pitkanen was one of the few Hurricanes who had to introduce himself to Cole after the trade with the Oilers. Jussi Jokinen, obtained in a trade last month from Tampa Bay, still is in Finland after the death of his father.
"It's nice to get this kind of player this time of the year," Pitkanen said. "It's great."
And slightly surreal after so much was made of the big offseason trade? Another grin.
"It is funny, isn't it?" Pitkanen said.