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Pitkanen could miss start of season

Posted September 3, 2013

— Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday that injured defenseman Joni Pitkanen might not be ready to start the season - a big blow to a unit that struggled a year ago.

Pitkanen broke his heel in April in a game against Washington when he raced down the ice in an attempt to beat an icing call. The injury cost him the final 13 games of the season.

Rutherford said Pitkanen is due to arrive in Raleigh later this week and will have a CT scan on his left heel.

The veteran defenseman has 57 career goals and 225 assists in nine NHL seasons and has spent the past five years with Carolina.

Carolina surrendered the second-most goals in the league last year, backed by the third worst penalty kill unit.

"Scoring goals is not an issue for the Hurricanes," Rutherford said. "I'd like to think with Kirk (Muller)'s system in place from the start of camp, with a more balanced defense, we can cut down on the goals against."

Canes focused on ending postseason drought Fialko: Canes focused on ending postseason drought

This year mark Muller's first full-length preseason camp in now his third year at the helm. 

"You're not feeling like you're playing catch-up," Muller said. "If you really look at it, when we first came in it's halfway through the season, you're pushing to make the playoffs. Then last year is the lockout year."

Outside of Pitkanen's foot, and first-round pick Elias Lindholm's banged-up shoulder, the Canes' early injury report is light -- including a clean bill of health for the captain.

"I foresee no problems at all, I feel really solid, I've been skating on it for awhile now," center, Eric Staal said referring to a knee injury he suffered playing for Team Canada at the World Championships.

"Just a few weeks ago, I jumped on the ice with him for the first time and he looked like he usually did," said Hurricanes forward and Eric's brother, Jordan Staal. "I didn't see that coming, I thought he'd be a little slower, but he looks really good on the ice."

At risk for Carolina is a fifth straight year of no postseason play which would be the longest drought for this franchise since packing its bags from Hartford. The goals are higher than just making it, however.

"We have to look forward to the Stanley Cup," said defenseman Tim Gleason. "Not just playoffs, but the Stanley Cup. And I think that starts as soon as training camp opens."

19 Comments

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  • eah51 Sep 5, 2:59 a.m.

    Does anyone (other than JR) think this guy is any good? Maybe I don't understand enough about hockey to appreciate his contributions on the ice? Isn't he just our hockey version of NY Giants DB, Elvis "Toast" Patterson? Giving up big plays & getting beat on a regular basis. Why can't we have defense-men like the other teams have, who actually check players, impede their progress, and hit somebody every now & then if called upon?

  • babedan Sep 4, 10:31 a.m.

    I guess if you think a Defenseman concentrating on offense and putting your top forwards on the blue line because he is constantly pinching and playing behind the net is a good thing, then He has to be an outstanding Defenseman. But I'd rather have a Defenseman who worries about Defense first, Actually knows when to pinch to help out the offense and then gets back to the blue line so his forwards can do their thing than I would someone like Joni.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Sep 4, 8:58 a.m.

    Joni does have upside when 100% and giving his best effort, the problem is he is rarely 100% and... View More

    — Posted by caniacman

    Yes. His health and his pay were most likely two reasons he wasn't already traded, I believe... View More

    — Posted by edits

    True, edits. It was a big mistake to give Joni such a big contract, and the Canes are paying the price.

  • I am not who you think I am Sep 4, 8:18 a.m.

    "We have to look forward to the Stanley Cup," said defenseman Tim Gleason. "Not just playoffs, but the Stanley Cup. And I think that starts as soon as training camp opens."

    Please....just win a few games ...how about finishing around .500.....show some heart alittle guts. Start off small..baby steps first OK Tim

  • edits Sep 4, 7:56 a.m.

    Joni does have upside when 100% and giving his best effort, the problem is he is rarely 100% and... View More

    — Posted by caniacman

    Yes. His health and his pay were most likely two reasons he wasn't already traded, I believe even if he were healthy they would still wait to trade him due to the size of his contract. Who wants to take on that kind of liability to the bottom line for a player we all know can be really good but just hasn't come to play every night, even when healthy. I like Joni but in my opinion he is not aggressive enough.

  • caniacman Sep 4, 7:46 a.m.

    Joni does have upside when 100% and giving his best effort, the problem is he is rarely 100% and does not always give his best effort every shift. I really think if Joni was healthy to end the year, he would have been traded. No team is going to trade for him until they see he is back and 100%. Joni could be the first player traded during the season.

  • kstan1006 Sep 3, 11:39 p.m.

    Also, every time he is out the whole team has to learn to play with him again..and he is really not that good. Not fair to the younger, healthier players that are doing a better job.

  • kstan1006 Sep 3, 11:37 p.m.

    Think we need a replacement..so many injuries and not good play. We have needed to trade him forever. Sorry about the injuries.

  • kheffn Sep 3, 9:12 p.m.

    The best thing that happened for the Hurricanes, Joni being out for the season for be the best... View More

    — Posted by babedan

    What's the facts, not opinion, for your post. Who do they start instead that's better?

    — Posted by kheffn

    What are the facts... and teh statistics are that Joni consistently has teh worst +/- for a 1... View More

    — Posted by Cragsdale

    Aside from the fact that you can't speak English, he was +2 last year. How many were better?

  • sanacito Sep 3, 8:46 p.m.

    I hope that Joni can get up and skating at 100% ASAP...just not with the Canes.

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