Canes camp eyes future, builds on past
Posted July 12, 2011
Wake Forest, N.C. — The coaches at the Polar Ice House in Wake Forest are a “who’s who” of the Carolina Hurricanes’ past. Ron Francis, Rod Brind’Amour, Tom Barrasso and Glen Wesley all offer their instructions while head coach Paul Maurice and general manager Jim Rutherford watch from behind the glass.
The players, mostly wide-eyed teenagers, are a glimpse into the franchise’s future.
The team’s four-day rookie conditioning camp consists of 12 prospects, both draft picks and invitees. Making the quick leap from camp to a regular spot on the NHL roster is rare, but watching Jeff Skinner accomplish that feat just last season gives these young players hope.
“Realistically, you don’t want to put too much pressure on any of these kids to be like [Skinner],” said Brind’Amour, the Canes assistant coach and development coach. “But obviously, we’d love to see it.”
If anyone can make the big club in a hurry, keep an eye on defenseman Ryan Murphy. He was the Canes first round draft choice last month, and he played with Skinner in juniors.
“I was thinking about it before I got picked,” Murphy said. “Carolina was up next and my mom leans over to me and says, ‘Imagine if you get to play with Jeff again.’ And it happened, so I’m pretty excited.”
All of the Canes 2011 draft choices are at camp, including defenseman Keegan Lowe, the Canes' third round pick. Lowe is the son of Oilers general manger Kevin Lowe, and Keegan asked his father not to draft him to avoid the perception of any favoritism.
“It’s not that I didn’t want to go to the Oilers because they’re a bad team or anything,” Lowe said. “It’s just I wanted to prove to myself and whoever doubted me, but mainly myself, that everything I’ve done has been under my own will and I could do it by myself.”
Lowe was even in the building the night the Canes beat the Oilers for the Stanley Cup in 2006.
That’s a day Connor Wilson will never forget.
Wilson, a 19-year-old goalie who is also at camp, is a Cary native who grew up a Canes fan. He went to games back when the franchise played in Greensboro.
“Every time I put on the jersey, it doesn’t even feel real,” Wilson said. “I kind of have to pinch myself a little bit.”
Wilson will play for Yale this fall and is a long-shot to have a future with the franchise. But like all 12 players at camp, he’s happy to have the chance.