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Report: Locker room tensions drove Cole out

With Cole now gone, Penguins insider Jason Mackey drops a bomb regarding the veteran defensemen’s time in Pittsburgh.

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Former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ian Cole had been on the way in Pittsburgh for awhile. We all heard the rumors, as first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey earlier in the season, that Cole had requested a trade out of town. The 29-year-old defensive defenseman was tired of being scratched from the lineup and was looking for a fresh start… that’s what was being reported. What wasn’t being reported however, was that the tension between Cole and Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was so strong, that Cole was eventually forced out.

Cole was shipped to the Ottawa Senators as part of a package to acquire center Derick Brassard, the Sens then flipped Cole to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a draft pick. 

Yesterday, Cole went on the record to state that he had no issues with Sullivan, but Mackey isn’t buying it.

“I don’t have anything personal against Sully,” Cole said in conversation with Mackey. “We had some disagreements over things. We had some talks over things like any player and any coach has ever had. That’s not unique to our situation.”

“I don’t buy all of that, but I do buy some of it,” said Mackey in his latest 20 Penguins Thoughts column for the Post-Gazette.

“I think the whole thing probably got blown out of proportion a little bit, just because people couldn’t really justify what was going on,” Cole continued. “It had to be something else. I never really had any personal issues with Sully. I can’t speak for him, but I’ve never had anything against him. I think he’s a great coach.”

Whether that’s true or whether Cole is just trying to save face well heading out the door we’ll never know. What we do know is that Cole will now suit up for one of Sullivan’s best friends in John Tortorella. Both Cole and Tortorella have a reputation for voicing their opinions and not backing down when confronted. It will be interesting to see how Cole handles his new environment.

Regardless of what happened between Cole and Sullivan, the book is now closed and both sides can move on from one another. And, for what it’s worth, it seems like Cole is ready for the next challenge in his professional life:

Good luck, Colesy. You just might need it.