RALEIGH, N.C. – Sitting quietly in the dressing room at Raleigh Center Ice back in late August, defenseman Matt Corrente loosened his skate laces while providing some insight on what his goal was in coming to play for the Carolina Hurricanes.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” Corrente said.
“I spent five years in Jersey and their organization. I have nothing but good things to say about them, but I think I need a fresh start and I think I have a great opportunity here with a great group of guys – a really good attitude here.”
Corrente’s enthusiastic outlook that day came on the heels of an informal skating session that ended just minutes earlier with numerous end-to-end skates that the players put themselves through while preparing for training camp.
After signing with Carolina as a free agent in early July, the 2006 first-round selection (30th overall) of the New Jersey Devils was looking to get a fresh start.
He had appeared in only 11 AHL games last season with the Devils’ affiliate club in Albany as the result of missing the majority of the season due to a shoulder injury.
While dealing with injury throughout much of his pro career, the 25-year-old blueliner who has also played up front as a forward, came to Raleigh healed, ready to play and looking to earn a spot on the team’s roster.
“Definitely the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Corrente said of his physical condition.
“I know I say it every time at every camp, but I keep outdoing myself and my shoulder, my body is 100 percent healthy. “
Since that day and through the beginning of Hurricanes’ training camp, Corrente has allowed his conservative defensive style of play to be highlighted by demonstrations of toughness that have shown his willingness to mix it up as needed.
During the team’s first scrimmage, he took on a bigger Brendan Woods who laid out forward Jiri Tlusty with a hard hit along the boards.
Corrente saw the situation as his opportunity to address the issue accordingly and to show that he was willing to stick up for Tlusty, a scrimmage mate whom he barely knew.
Most recently, during Carolina’s 3-1 preseason win against the Montreal Canadiens, Corrente earned 13 minutes in penalties including a major for fighting, and played an aggressive game that saw him serve as much time in the box as he did on the ice.
Will that type of play earn him a spot on the opening-day roster against Detroit?
If anything, upon looking back at what Corrente said his plan coming into camp was, he’s followed through on it and given himself a chance to be considered to start his season with the Hurricanes.
“I’m game for any aspect of the game,” Corrente said.
“I feel like I have been a little bit of everything, but I’m a bit more of a stay-at-home defenseman if I’m playing defense. If I’m playing forward, I’m more of an energy guy. I feel I can bring a lot of different aspects of the game. Do what it takes.”