Clear of distractions, assistant captain will lead Group B
RALEIGH, N.C. – The first sets of blades will touch the ice at PNC Arena on Thursday as Team Eric, aka Group A, will make its entrance onto the smooth, cool surface at 9 a.m. sharp, followed by Team Jordan, or Group B following them at Noon.
From the informal skating sessions that players led themselves for the past three weeks at Raleigh Center Ice to the first on-ice session to kick off this year’s training camp, it’s now time for all 48 players on the invite list to show head coach Kirk Muller that they deserve to wear a Carolina Hurricanes jersey for the upcoming season.
As the players made final strides last week, the anticipation for the first day of skating at camp was high.
“The guys are workin’ hard, getting’ prepared,” Group B captain Jordan Staal said last Friday.
“It’s always good to see the guys again and get the season started.”
For Staal, this season is one that he is intent on playing to help the team to progress from winning games intermittently to winning then consistently and often.
He made that commitment off the ice during the summer, as he’s coming into camp about 10 pounds leaner and hungrier to showcase not only his defensive game, but to put up some more offensive numbers as well.
Not having the whirlwind summer he had last year while being traded on his wedding day and enduring the stress of the NHL lockout that ensued, the Hurricanes assistant captain is coming to camp with a clearer mind and a more fine-tuned body.
“I feel a lot stronger and quicker out there, so hopefully it helps out on the ice,” Staal said.
“We skated about twice a week in July, and in August we started skating four or five times a week.”
Ready for the higher intensity levels of skating that training camp will demand, Staal will lead his squad onto the ice at lunch time – hungry to feed his passion and desire to help his team earn a playoff spot for the first time in four years.