It turns out that the specific vertibra that was fractured in Cole's injury was the c-5. This is a very serious injury. Of course we already knew that, but it is this very same vertebral fracture that forced the Islanders' Kevin Colley to retire earlier this season.
On the other hand, Patrick Eaves, of the Senators suffered the same injury in his freshman season at Boston College. He made a full recovery after exactly three months, and has blossomed into a decent NHLer.
What we now know explains why certain preliminary reports indicated an arm injury. The C5 vertebra has nerves which go to the arm -- at and above the elbow. This article, and others like it, can be more detailed about that.
And here's some shocking news, from an article in today's News and Observer:
One more foot-pound of pressure, doctors told Erik Cole, and the fractured vertebra he suffered could have had far more disastrous consequences.
One foot-pound isn't very much force. That's pretty scary.
Meanwhile, Brooks Orpik has been groaning about the length of his suspension. Said Orpik, in an interview:
"I don't agree with it, but I understand where they're coming from.... Anytime there's a serious injury, they have to act on it, but the three games -- I was surprised about that."
In the article from the N&O, Cole says that he doesn't think Orpik intended to injure him, but he's with the rest of us in being perplexed be the brevity of the Orpik suspension.
Especially when juxtaposed against the Artyukhin two-game suspension. I'm just not sure how running a player from behind causing a very serious injury is only 50% more reprehensible than bashing a guy over the head with a helmet, causing a minor cut.
Added to the actual injury, and the insult of a very light suspension to Orpik, Cole is disappointed that he hasn't heard a single word from Orpik. Cole isn't looking for an apology or anything like that. What he's looking for is for Orpik to show some class by calling just to see how he's doing.
Tonight, the Canes will be in Philly for another Eastern Conference showdown of playoff-bound teams.