Canes' Cole leaves game on stretcher after collision with goalie Vokoun

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Carolina Hurricanes forward Erik Cole was
removed from the ice on a stretcher in the third period Monday
night and taken to a hospital after colliding with Florida Panthers
goalie Tomas Vokoun.

Cole was released from the Cleveland Clinic in Weston later
Monday night and was cleared to fly after a CT scan was negative.

He was expected to join the Hurricanes' flight to Tampa on
Tuesday morning and will continue to be monitored by the team's
medical staff, Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford said in a

Cole was injured at 12:34 as he was driving to the net. He was
checked from behind by defenseman Jassen Cullimore and crashed
headfirst into Vokoun's pads.

"He was saying, Something is wrong with my neck,'" Vokoun
said after Carolina's 4-3 victory. "He didn't want to move. It's
tough. It's a contact game. Things like that can happen,

Cole remained motionless for several minutes before being taken
off the ice.

"From what I understand, he had movement in his limbs,"
Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "He had some pain in his
trapezoid area, and I think with his previous injury, not knowing
what's going on in there, it's just better to be safe."

The veteran of six NHL seasons is less than two years removed
from a serious neck injury. Cole sustained a fractured vertebra on
March 4, 2006, when he was boarded by Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik.

He missed the remainder of that regular season and Carolina's
first 23 playoff games before making a surprise return to the
Hurricanes lineup for the final two contests of the Stanley Cup
finals when the team won its only NHL championship.

Cole's teammates were encouraged by the early reports of his

"He had a stinger feeling going down both sides of his body,"
Hurricanes center Eric Staal said. "I know on the ice he had some
strength in his arms and movement in his legs."