Canes eager to get back to work
Posted January 13, 2013
Updated January 14, 2013
The Carolina Hurricanes officially returned to work Sunday at PNC Arena to the appreciative applause from their fans. It was a gesture not lost on the captain Eric Staal.
“It was awesome to see them and you know there are passionate fans here that love the game of hockey,” Staal said. “For us to go out there with them there, it was something pretty cool and special.”
The captain continued to note that the players have a lot to do to show how important the fans in Carolina are to the club. “We want to make sure that we are preparing this week as best we can to reward them with some good hockey here the next few months.”
Still, there is a lot of work to be done in a small amount of time and new faces that have to blend in to provide that good hockey Staal is talking about.
Alex Semin, the former Washington standout is the highly skilled offensive player that the organization has tried to find to complement Staal, took part in his first workout with the team. The amount of time it takes for Staal and Semin to get on the same page could determine if Carolina gets off to a hot start or has to claw for a playoff berth. Semin is the player that Staal believes with just the threat of his ability will benefit the Canes offense this season, even on nights when the talented Russian might not have his 'A' game.
Carolina getting off to a good start, which has not been the team's strength the past few seasons, might just depend on how many A games that duo has. With eight of the Canes first 12 games on the road, there is little time to experiment with the line-up to figure out what is the best line-up for the coaching staff.
Kirk Muller said it seems easy to figure out what the lines should be.
“If you look at it, you write on paper what you think is going to be the right line-up, you like Staal with Semin, Jordan with Skinner starting off,” Muller said.
“I don’t think coaches have the luxury of being as patient this year as you’d like and trying not to move lines around. You need to get off to a good start and if guys are going they’re going to play.”
Jordan Staal, acquired from Pittsburgh what seemed like an eon ago, has waited a while to get on the ice with his Hurricane teammates and was teamed with Jeff Skinner and Chad LaRose in the first official practice of the year. The younger Staal was eager to get to know his new mates.
“It’s nice to just to get this training camp going, getting out with the guys and being part of that team.”
How quick the team comes together in an abridged training camp is now the major question that the lockout has left fans with.
Canes Camp Notes:
It was a busy day for Jim Rutherford as the Hurricanes GM made two deals.
First Carolina traded back-up goaltender Brian Boucher, defenseman Mark Alt to Philadelphia for forward Luke Pither. The 23-year-old Pither will report to the Canes AHL affiliate in Charlotte. Boucher suffered a groin injury last year that derailed his stay in Carolina. The Canes inked veteran Dan Ellis, who had been in Charlotte to a two-way contract this morning, to be Cam Ward’s back-up.
Ward was held out of the second practice Sunday afternoon. He has been battling the flu and has stated it’s been a big week for him, not just with the NHL ending the lockout. He has become a father for the second time.
The second deal that the Canes made Sunday brought in the grit that Rutherford is looking for on his fourth line. Carolina picked up forward Kevin Westgarth from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forward Anthony Stewart, a 2013 fourth-round draft pick and a sixth-round selection in the 2014. Westgarth is a 6’4” 228 pound bruiser from Princeton that has appeared in 90 NHL regular-season games, earning five points (1g, 4a) and compiling 153 penalty minutes. He is also Bill Cowher’s son-in-law. He married Cowher’s daughter Meagan in 2011 and lives in Raleigh.