Particularly after Erik Cole's brief, unimpressive tenure with the Edmonton Oilers, the conventional wisdom around the NHL was that he was most at home in a Carolina Hurricanes uniform.

Perhaps, though, that conventional wisdom was wrong. Perhaps he was most at home on the road in a Carolina Hurricanes uniform, as long as that road venue was Montreal's Bell née Molson Centre.

Cole, who grew up in Oswego, N.Y., and went to school at Clarkson, across the border in upstate New York and not too far from Montreal, always saved his best for the Canadiens. He has 25 points in 28 regular-season games against the Habs, and another seven in that six-game playoff series in 2002. If he'd been able to play in 2006, who knows what the numbers would look like.

If you can't stop him, sign him - and Montreal went to extraordinary lengths to do so, giving a four-year contract to a guy who has never played four straight full seasons. The Canadiens were willing to give him $4.5 million per season, while the Hurricanes stuck to the $3 million Cole made last year until Friday afternoon, when they started creeping upward.

"It was the best offer that we had, better than Carolina unfortunately," Cole told Canadian sports network TSN. "But it's an exciting opportunity to go to Montreal. It's a playoff team every year and a team that can vie for the Stanley Cup, so I'm excited."