From all appearances, it would seem Erik Cole and Joe Corvo have little in common.

Cole is a power forward for the Carolina Hurricanes, while Corvo's a puck-moving defenseman. Cole's voice often can be heard in the locker room, while Corvo moves about the room quietly. Cole has one modest tattoo ("My kids' names," he said) while Corvo has much more ink. (Think Texas Rangers slugger and Raleigh native Josh Hamilton.)

But as the two bonded as friends, Cole and Corvo also grew to share a common role as leaders of a young Hurricanes' team angling for a playoff berth. Given Corvo's low-key introduction to the team, though, that appeared an unlikely role for the new Hurricanes defenseman three years ago.

When Corvo was traded to the Canes from the Ottawa Senators in February 2008, Cole recalls then-coach Peter Laviolette welcoming him to the team before his first game.

"Lavy was giving his 'Let's get going speech,'" Cole said. "He then said 'Corvo, what's your name? What do you like to be called?' Everyone expected a nickname, because everyone in hockey has a nickname."

Cole said Corvo sat for a second or two, staring straight-ahead.

"Then, in his monotone, he said, 'Just Joe,'" Cole said.

Just Joe?

"Everyone had to laugh at that," Cole said, smiling.

Cole soon made it his business to get to know Corvo, talking to him, kidding him, hanging out with him. He even decided on a nickname for him.

"I told him his name would be 'Lucky,'" Cole said.

Corvo wanted to know why. Cole said he wore No. 77, so why not "Lucky."

Three years later, the two are the best of friends. Both players were traded away briefly by the Hurricanes - Cole to the Edmonton Oilers, Corvo to the Washington Capitals - only to return to Raleigh. Now they often ride to games and practices together. Their kids play together.