Jan 16, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — During the 113 day NHL lockout, the "C" stitched on Eric Staal's sweater took on a whole new meaning, the "captain" added "coach" to his title.
"We were kind of forced to come up with our own drills in the practices," said Canes goalie Cam Ward. "Trying to keep it fun and different."
In addition to spearheading practices, Staal helped handle the busy work; making sure the ice was available, mass-texting his teammates.
"It's just in his nature, not just because he's the captain, because he's a born leader," said Hurricanes defenseman Jay Harrison. "Whether you're playing a game of pick-up or you're out there fighting for a playoff spot, the competition level is the same for him. That wears off on your peers and your colleagues, and that's one of the qualities that makes him a great leader."
Now that the lockout is in the rear-view mirror, Staal gladly relinquished those duties.
"Picking up drills and moving the pucks is not up my alley," Staal said. "It's something, I don't know if it ever will be."
Although fellow Canes say they could definitely see number 12 swap the sweater for a suit some day.
"You can already tell he's a little bit more vocal than in years' past. I just know he's real excited to get this thing going again," Ward said.
"He's definitely approachable to the guys, but he can also be tough on guys as well," said Staal's younger brother, Jordan.
"With his skill set and his knowledge of the game, I think he'll have a lot to offer future generations," said Harrison.
But Staal will say, don't count your coaching chickens before they hatch.