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Cote gives Predators element of toughness
Monday, October 12, 1998
By NEIL STEVENS -- Canadian Press NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CP) -- Patrick (KO) Cote has no qualms about his role with the Nashville Predators. The six-foot-three forward is the new NHL team's enforcer, and proud of it. "I've done this since junior and I like it," says the rugged 23-year-old. "I think I do pretty well at it. "I've beat up more people than have beat me up." Cote, from Lasalle, Que., trained in Montreal last summer with pro boxer Andre Blais and his superior stamina was evident in the Predators' inaugural game when Cote won fights against Florida tough guys Peter Worrell and Paul Laus. "After the game, people were telling me, 'We love you, Patrick.' The guy in the penalty box said to me, 'You're going to be the most popular player here.' If it's like that, it's good for me," Cote says. In 1994-95, Cote accumulated 314 minutes in penalties with the Beauport Harfangs in the QMJHL. Worrell played for Hull that year so it was like old times when they dropped the gloves on Saturday night. The Dallas Stars used their second pick, 37th overall, to draft Cote in 1995. He played only two NHL games in 1995-96 and got into a fight with Todd Ewen. With the Michigan IHL farm club, he piled up 239 penalty minutes in 57 games. Word was getting around the pro circuit: don't mess with this guy. In 1996-97, he played three NHL games and fought Bob Probert in Chicago, Lyle Odelein of the Devils, and Toronto's Tie Domi in Dallas. He didn't back down from anybody. Still, the Stars farmed him out. Back in the IHL, he amassed 237 penalty minutes in 58 games. In 1997-98, Cote fought Probert again during the preseason. Dallas used him in only three games and in those few games he had fights with Jim Cummins of the Phoenix Coyotes, Jeff Odgers of the Colorado Avalanche, and Tony Twist of the St. Louis Blues. In the Twist fight, he ripped his left shoulder ligament. Surgery on Jan. 10 ended his season. Having recuperated, he battled Twist and Stu Grimson of the Mighty Ducks during the preseason. "I fight all the big guys," he says. "I'm not starting with the middleweights. "In three years, I've fought pretty much all the tough guys in the league." He's grateful to the Predators for claiming him in the expansion draft because they got him out of Dallas, where he was treading water. "They never gave me a chance," he said of the Stars. "They were complaining they didn't have an enforcer last season but I was there for 27 games and they only played me in three -- and I fought three times. I don't know what was their problem." For the first time since his junior days, "I feel the best kind of spirit again," he said. The Predators play in Ottawa on Saturday and in Toronto on Monday, and Cote eagerly awaits the flight north. His father, Gilles, will drive to Ottawa to see his son play in an NHL game for the first time. "It's going to be exciting for me," Cote said. "It is because of him that I am here now. "He always pushed, pushed. I left hockey when I was 17 and it is because of him that I went back to the sport. And now I am happy and I have no regrets. I'm just going to keep working and doing my job."