With schedule uncertain, 'Canes prep for regular season

Posted January 10, 2013

— Despite not having complete details about which teams they will play and where they will play them, the Carolina Hurricanes are feverishly preparing for what will likely be a 48-game regular season once the NHL and players’ union ratify a new collective bargaining agreement.

General manager Jim Rutherford and head coach Kirk Muller said Thursday those preparations are going well and that the Canes will be prepared to compete once the lockout-shortened season does begin.

"The games really are like playoff games because there is no lull in the season," Rutherford said. "We're excited, we think we're better with the changes we've made and we're excited to get started."

Reports indicate the season could start as early as Jan. 19, which would mean a road game for the Hurricanes if they open up play on the first day of the season. PNC Arena hosts a rodeo event the evening of Jan. 19. Fialko: Canes speak with media Fialko: Canes speak with media

"It's all tentative at this point because players have to ratify the agreement," Rutherford said. "We're hoping it's ratified and that camp could start Sunday with physicals and a skate later in the day."

Once the 'Canes are on the ice, head coach Kirk Muller said he's excited to coach new additions Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, two players that he says set the team up well to be better than it was a season ago. 

"Adding Jordan Staal gives us a different dimension, because we could use the Staal brothers at center on the first and second line," he said. "We had great momentum last year to finish the season, and if we can get that momentum going again we're a better team on paper than we finished the season."

Semin, who was acquired by Carolina from the Washington Capitals in July, could help the Hurricanes in specialty situation, Muller said. 

"We're excited to coach Semin, I saw enough of him coaching against him," Muller said. "He's a big body, and he's a guy that's capable of making a difference in close games. Not only in 5-on-5, but in shootouts and 4-on-4. He can make us a better hockey club."

As for winning back a fanbase that just endured its second lockout in less than 10 years, Rutherford said the Canes will have work to do early in the season. Rutherford said the team did see a decline in season ticket holders during the 113-day work stoppage. 

"As we got closer to the holiday, the number of people canceling season tickets grew," he said. "Since the tentative deal has been announced, we've been selling a lot of tickets. I hope we can gain back that 7 percent and maybe more."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman secured unanimous support for the pending labor deal Wednesday, then apologized to everyone hurt by the long lockout and said he isn’t going anywhere.

The league's board of governors met in a Manhattan hotel Wednesday and overwhelmingly approved the agreement that was reached early Sunday on the 113th day of the lockout. Carolina Hurricanes Logo More Hurricanes Stories

"Most importantly to our fans, who love and have missed NHL hockey, I am sorry," Bettman said. "I know that an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the past few months, but I owe you an apology nevertheless.

"As commissioner of the National Hockey League it sometimes falls upon me to make tough decisions that disappoint and occasionally anger players and fans. This was a long and extremely difficult negotiation — one that took a lot longer than anybody wanted. I know it caused frustration, disappointment and even suffering to a lot of people who have supported the National Hockey League in many different ways."

Players are expected to vote on the deal Friday and Saturday. If a majority of the more than 700 members in good standing agree to the terms, training camps can open Sunday. A 48-game season is likely to begin Jan. 19.

The NHL and the union are still drafting a memorandum of understanding that must be signed before training camps open.

The players' association wants as much of the document as possible to be completed before voting begins.

The union is busy calling players and agents to educate them about the changes and additions to the agreement. The vote will be done electronically.


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  • NCCaniac Jan 11, 2013

    View quoted thread

    I do understand what you are saying about if enough fans boycott, there would be a risk to the franchise in this area, but on the flip side if people do not boycott it just confirms in the mind of the owners that the lockouts at the end of each CBA are a fine negotiating tactic because the fans always come back. Unfortunately, not enough fans will boycott to make the message heard. If the first week of games back had empty arenas across the league...that would send a message the owners would hear. But it won't happen...and there will be another lockout when this CBA expires.

    And as much as I dislike Bettman, he was only doing what the owners told him to do as their representative. If they really did not like how he handled the negotiations they would have made it very clear to him. No, it was the owners who wanted this protracted lockout.

  • 321oohaw Jan 11, 2013

    whiner line is open...

  • Jimmytwotimes Jan 11, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Well than, the only thing your accomplishing is, you don't get to watch NHL hockey anymore. congratulations, your grudge is only punishing yourself.

  • Killing Time Jan 11, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Fairweather fans? Kid I've been cheering for my Detroit Red Wings since I was a child through thick & thin. I love hockey, but 2 lockouts in less than 10 years is unforgiveable.

  • Jimmytwotimes Jan 11, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Ha Ha, the real dumb as rocks people are the ones that beleive boycotting the game will accomplish anything. those are the fair weathered fans anyway that don't watch unless there company takes them to a game or we are in the 3rd round of the playoffs. You will not be missed. I however will be enjoying 3-4 months of NHL hockey, the best sport on earth by far.

  • caniacman Jan 11, 2013

    I really do understand those that want to boycott. Trust me I do. The bottom line though is this market has its core hockey fans. If too many of us boycott the entire season, guess what the Carolina Hurricanes are going to become the Seattle or Las Vegas or Kansas City or Quebec or Ontario whatevers.... There are 5 cities that have an NHL size newer arena that are dying to get a team! If you love hockey in Raleigh and boycott we run the risk of losing this team. Hockey has grown by leaps and bounds in this area, but that will come to a halt quickly. Just know what the possible outcome could be!
    I do agree Gary Bettman has to go. I think that would be the first thing the league could do to get fans back, I think he has more to do with the lockouts then anyone. Also lets not discount Fehr role in this one either. It was the PA that did not want to start negotiations sooner not the owners. That said the owners tactics once they did start was a joke. I am not happy with the last 100 days but will be in that arena because the fear of what a "boycott" could cost us and the sport I love are too much. I cant wait until the 19th when we can stop talking about the ugly business side of the sport and get back to the debate of the actual games being played!

  • same ole story Jan 11, 2013

    "Most importantly to our fans, who love and have missed NHL hockey, I am sorry," Bettman said. "I know that an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the past few months, but I owe you an apology nevertheless.

    Better dig A LOT DEEPER THAN THAT GARY!!!!!you have kicked us to the curb too many times in the last decade to get my hard earned money!!!!! Better think about ticket deals and free center ice packages for the fans!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A short season is nothing more than a joke! Just to save face and not have another blank spot on the Stanley cup for a lost season under your watch!!!!I might, and do mean might, see you next year!! Pitchers and catchers report in a few weeks so this lame "mini season" will be put on the very back burner. You need to come up with a plan to "beg me to come back!!!!!"

  • Bob Sidel Jan 11, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Don't knock it just because the game is too complex for you. And you would definitely know what watching grass grow feels like living in Willow Springs, wouldn't you?

  • Bob Sidel Jan 11, 2013

    The only difference not going to games could make is the franchise relocating..there are other places that will support the team if NC chooses not to. Anyone who appreciates the game should support it however they can.

  • dehowell2 Jan 11, 2013

    Well now that the prima donnas got their way we are stuck with hockey for a few months. About as exciting as watching grass grow. Maybe the team and fans should all go back up north asap.




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