Department: the Waiting Room
No player was less likely to hoist the Stanley Cup, the most hallowed of all trophies, than Erik Cole. Just 3½ months after suffering a broken neck on the ice, he came back for the last two games of the hockey playoffs. Though his two fractured vertebrae had healed only 90 percent, a CT scan convinced doctors to clear his return.
“I've dreamed about playing in the Stanley Cup finals since I was a kid,” he explained. “And if I had the opportunity to go out and play at minimal risk, and the risk is going to be with me the rest of my life, I'm willing to take the chance to do everything I can to help our team win.”
Which is precisely what the Olympic forward did in helping the Carolina Hurricanes capture their first Stanley Cup championship.