What's been the hot topic of the last couple months, for the Pittsburgh Penguins?
Any takers? You all have the answer - trades. The Penguins have been at the centre of the trade market for the majority of the season, and that persists to this day.
Now, who's the name that keeps coming up, and was expected to be traded weeks ago?
Rhymes with korean bowl. Sort of.
Okay, you know who we're talking about - Ian Cole was expected to be traded weeks ago, with the main factor being his tumultuous relationship with head coach Mike Sullivan.
This relationship has caused a fine defenseman to be a regular healthy scratch, with lesser players being given opportunities over him for seemingly no reason. The reason is pretty obvious, in most people's minds anyways.
And it appears to perplex general manager Jim Rutherford.
"There is clearly some friction between Cole and Sullivan, though not necessarily as much as many may think," Josh Yohe of The Athletic reported. "However, there is no such friction between Cole and the front office.
"I watched a portion of Tuesday's practice in Anaheim with Rutherford and he spoke at length about Cole, what a good player he is, what a warrior he is and how unfortunate it is that he's currently out of the lineup because he hasn't played horribly.
"Rutherford shook his head in awe when I brought up Cole's 2017 postseason."
Rutherford clearly has an affinity for Cole, he speaks of him in high regard, and even admits that it's unfortunate Cole isn't playing, considering he hasn't playing badly. He also acknowledges how much of a key factor Cole was to Pittsburgh winning the Stanley Cup in 2017. These types of players don't grow on trees, and if Pittsburgh expects to make a playoff run this year, they should want him on the roster.
That being said, Sullivan simply isn't playing him. Unless Rutherford steps in and tells him to flat out play him, which he probably won't, his best course of action is to trade the rugged defenseman. He has value, albeit diminishing with every day he sits in the press box. The fact that he is set to be a free agent in the summer doesn't help, either.
At the end of the day, it doesn't seem at all that Rutherford and Sullivan are on the same page here, and the GM may be forced to trade away a player he likes simply because the coach has a personal issue with him.
ON THIS DAY IN PITTSBURGH HISTORY
1973 - Rutherford backstopped the Penguins to his second shutout victory against the Boston Bruins.
1988 - Paul Coffey scored his one and only hat trick as a Pittsburgh Penguin.
2007 - Evgeni Malkin recorded 5 points in a single game for the first time in his career, with Mark Recchi scoring a hat trick on the same night.