Cote: I've got to support Hells Angel 'like he's my brother'

PITTSBURGH -- You never know what you're going to find on the Internet.

For instance, on Riley Cote's page on MySpace, there was, among other things, a link to his cousin and a banner supporting the local chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.

The Winnipeg Sun discovered this little curiosity and delivered a front-page story about it on the eve of the opening game between Cote's Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins, complete with a large color picture of the hard-nosed Cote engaged in an on-ice fight.

The paper reported Cote's cousin, Sean Wolfe, was a member of the gang and quoted local police officials and academics, who suggested connections to an outlaw motorcycle outfit might not be the best thing in terms of role models for young fans.

Cote, who has been noted for his charitable works around the game, was miffed it came up at all, let alone as his team attempts to return to the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1997.

"He's my cousin, he's family. What do you want me to do? I can't change anything about it. I mean, I've got to support him like he's my brother. What would you do?" Cote asked a small group of reporters who asked about the story after the Flyers worked out in Pittsburgh Friday morning.

Cote and his cousin were close growing up and Cote said he remains loyal to his family.

"It's not me. That's not me. I don't know why people make an issue about this," said Cote, a Winnipeg native.

"He's [like] my big brother. He spent a lot of time at my house. He chose one path, I chose another. That's just a perfect example of people choosing their own destinies, their own careers. I could have easily followed that."

By the time the questions were asked of Cote, the offending links to the motorcycle group were off his page.

"I honestly can't believe this is brought up any time, let alone in playoffs. We've got one thing to worry about and that's beating the Penguins. I don't want to be bothered [by] this or the team bothered by this," Cote added.

It's unknown how many NHL players have pages on social networks like MySpace.com. There is no policy regarding player pages on the Internet, other than to be a good citizen.

League officials were aware of the reported connections between Cote and the Hells Angels.

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.