Erik Cole benched for Stars opener, now in Ruff's doghouse

Erik Cole of the Dallas Stars has been benched by Coach Lindy Ruff for the team's home opener after missing practice.
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It will take more than talent for the Stars to make a serious push for the Stanley Cup this season. It will take discipline.

Coach Lindy Ruff made that clear on Thursday afternoon when he announced that Erik Cole will watch the team's season opener against the Blackhawksfrom the press box at American Airlines Center.'s 2014-15 NHL season crystal ball predictions

The veteran winger is being punished for arriving late to practice on Monday. He had flown home on Sunday to see his family in Raleigh, N.C., and had a return flight to Dallas that would get him back in time to skate. But a delayed departure threw a wrench into his plans.

Based on Wednesday's practice, it was initially thought that Cole would be demoted to the fourth line as punishment for his absence. Instead, Patrick Eaves will take his spot on the second line with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky. Colton Sceviour will fill in on the fourth line.

This isn't the first time that Cole has been in Ruff's doghouse. He was a healthy scratch in three of Dallas's six playoff games last season, prompting talk that he might be bought out of the final year of his contract. If the ice under him was thin then, it's cracking now. Expect his name to start popping up in trade talk.

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