Amidst trade speculations and controversies, Ian Cole has tried his best to not let distractions get to him, or affect him as he prepares for his return to the lineup tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.
After being a healthy scratch for multiple games, Cole returns to the lineup - and general manager Jim Rutherford is probably praying he doesn't injure himself playing his intense defensive game. There were talks that his absence in the lineup was to avoid having him hurt himself and render him useless as a trade chip.
Mike Sullivan denied that rumor and stated he simply wasn't happy with his performance. Regardless of where the truth lies, they've given Cole the chance to play again, and in preparation for tonight's game, Cole took a hard shot to the top of his thumb in practice.
“The puck hit it right on the tip,” Cole said to the Post-Gazette. “Jammed it. Split my nail open. It killed. I think it’s fine. I can still bend it and everything. It’s not broken, but, man, did it hurt.”
Blood was everywhere, and despite the pain, he should thankfully be okay. It's kind of ironic that the team supposedly feared him getting injured in a game, yet he nearly broke his thumb in practice.
Cole blocked a franchise-best 194 shots last season, and is still among the team's best defensemen this season, statistically speaking.
It'll be interesting to see how this situation progresses as the trade deadline gets ever closer.