NHL

'Canes another year older, wiser - better?

Share This Story

   
 

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)

Eric Staal figures the Carolina Hurricanes will be better this season - if only because they're older.

One of the NHL's youngest teams last year allowed a playoff berth to slip through its fingers on the final day of the season. Now they've matured, and they don't want their postseason fate to once again come down to one last game.

They'd rather take care of that well ahead of time this year, starting Oct. 7 with the home opener against the same Tampa Bay team that kept them out of the playoffs last season.

''We're another year older. I think that you need to take that into account,'' Staal said. ''We changed from an older team to a younger team last year, and we had new faces - a lot of guys that hadn't played many games in the NHL at all. Now we're another year in, and guys like (Brandon Sutter), Skinner ... we'd like to think we're another year stronger, wiser, and that will make us a better hockey club.''

A year after opening a rebuilding season with only four players in their 30s, the Hurricanes hope they've assembled a team with the right blend of young, fresh legs and experienced veterans who are accustomed to the night-in, night-out grind of the NHL.

They're counting on reigning rookie of the year Jeff Skinner, who led all rookies with 63 points last year as the league's youngest player, to avoid a sophomore slump after turning the ripe old age of 19 over the summer.

Two other teenagers - defensemen Justin Faulk (19) and Ryan Murphy (18), their first-round pick in June - were still on the roster a week before the start of the regular season.

They could complement a handful of offseason acquisitions and a returning cast of veterans that includes franchise cornerstones Staal and goalie Cam Ward, top-line defenseman Tim Gleason and a trio of Finnish players in forwards Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu and defenseman Joni Pitkanen.

Among the most notable moves of the offseason were the additions of veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle from Boston and physical forward Alexei Ponikarovsky from Los Angeles, a a 6-foot-4, 226-pound bruiser that Staal said ''makes us definitely bigger and stronger up front.''

Carolina also brought in Tim Brent as their fourth-line center and signed veteran goalie Brian Boucher to back up Ward and allow Justin Peters to develop in the minor leagues.

A pair of fan favorites are no longer around, with Erik Cole signing a four-year deal with Montreal and Joe Corvo following him out of Raleigh when he was traded to Boston. Among the Hurricanes whoyour goal is to win the Stanley cup and I feel that we have a chance to do that here.

''The best players are in their prime ... and then we've got 2-3 really young players coming up like Skinner and (center Brandon) Sutter and (defenseman Jamie) McBain,'' Jokinen said. ''I really believe in this organization. ... I felt that I played two and a half (years) of my best hockey here.''

The Hurricanes have made the playoffs only once since they won their only Stanley Cup in 2006, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in 2009 in Jokinen's first season with them.

Those memories made last year's shortcoming even more agonizing - and motivational - for Jokinen.

''Especially remembering playing in the playoffs in '09, making a huge run here,'' Jokinen said. ''It was such a great time, and now we've missed the playoffs two straight times, so I'm extra hungry, for sure

Tagged: Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, Eric Staal, Tim Gleason, Jussi Jokinen, Cam Ward, Tim Brent, Brandon Sutter, Jeff Skinner

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

LA mayor at Kings rally: 'This is a big f**king day!' Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

Highlights: Rangers/Kings - Game 5 Posted: Jun 14, 2014
Watch highlights of the Kings' 2OT win over the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup.

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt