Jan 14, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Kevin Westgarth spent much of the NHL lockout working out with Carolina Hurricanes players so when the team went out looking for a big, physical forward, the former Los Angeles King was a logical fit.
Even before the trade, Westgarth made his home in Raleigh and is married to the daughter of one of the cities more well-known residents – Bill Cowher.
“Living down here, it’s great to not be coming in blind,” Westgarth said. “There’s a lot of organizations that I don’t know anyone so it was great to kind of have a base.”
Westgarth was one of the players heavily involved with the NHL Players Association during the 113-day lockout which made him a key source of information for what now are his new teammates. He said that the combination of working with the union and many Canes players, he started, “to feel like part of the team this summer.”
“We’re excited to have him here,” teammate Chad LaRose said. “He skated with us this summer and he’s a good guy. He did a lot of stuff for our organization as well as for the players association throughout the lockout. He’s a nice guys that dedicates his time and is a good team guy.”
Westgarth was just one of a handful of deals the Canes have made in the first two days of the season. On Monday, the Canes recalled forwards Zac Dalpe, Riley Nash and Brett Sutter from the Charlotte Checkers so they could participate in the team’s inter-squad scrimmage Tuesday. On Sunday, Carolina also acquired Luke Pither from the Philadelphia Flyers and signed goaltender Dan Ellis to a one-year deal.
• The first session Monday had the Canes working on installing the forecheck. The 45- minute session featured the team working on the rush and keeping the puck in the neutral zone.
• Kevin Westgarth made his Canes debut skating with Drayson Bowman and Jeremy Welsh.
• Cam Ward participated in both practice sessions.
• Lots of work focused on the power play during the second session. The top line featured Eric Staal centering for Alex Semin and Jeff Skinner with Justin Faulk and Joni Pitkanen on the points.
• The 2nd Power Play unit had Jordan Staal centering Chad LaRose and Jussi Jokinen. Jamie McBain and Joe Corvo were the defensive pairing.
• Forward Tim Wallace took a Corvo blast off his leg that sent him to the ice. Wallace made his way to the bench on his own power and finished practice.
• The Canes will have a Red and White scrimmage at noon Tuesday at Raleigh Center Ice. The teams will be decided at the rink, and according to head coach Kirk Muller, the stakes will be determined between the players. Forwards Zac Dalpe, Riley Nash and Brett Sutter were called up from Charlotte for the scrimmage.
• Muller also hinted that because of the 48-game schedule, the team will look to rest players on off days but there will still be practice days that could see the coaching staff put on the gear. So it is possible that Muller, Rod Brind’Amour, John MacLean, Glen Wesley, Cory Stillman and Hall of Famer Ron Francis return to the ice.
• Zach Boychuk feels that playing in Charlotte gives him a leg up on trying to make the team. “It’s huge, just makes it that much easier out there,” he said. “We are already in game shape and practice shape and you don’t have to worry about getting your legs under you and getting your hands back. All of us that came up from Charlotte we feel like we have a little bit of an edge and this is kind of our year to say hey, ‘I want to make this team.’”
• Muller on what the Charlotte guys can do: “I think we are going to look at those guys obviously very seriously this week, they did what they had to do. we said ’go and perform and make it tough for us.’ Push the veterans and push guys in different positions and so they are going to make us make some tough calls this week.”