By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes answered the question many had been asking – who will be the team’s captain heading into the 2017-2018 NHL season?
And rather than naming one, the Hurricanes went ahead and named two captains.
Executive vice president and general manager Ron Francis walked into the media room at PNC Arena on Thursday with forward Jordan Staal and defenseman Justin Faulk along with head coach Bill Peters in tow to make the announcement in front of gathered media, team employees and representatives, as well as Governor Roy Cooper, a longtime season ticket holder.
When Francis spoke, it was a presentation that was short and to the point as both Staal and Faulk were each presented a jersey with the ‘C’ on it – Staal’s was red and Faulk’s white.
With Staal primarily serving as captain at home and Faulk serving as captain on the road, forward Jeff Skinner was also announced by Peters as the full-time alternate captain.
The three comprise the team’s named leadership group.
“Obviously a situation where one wears the letter at home, the other one on the road, and then we’ll flip halfway through the season,” Peters said.
“As I said to these guys, it’s a proud day and an honor…These three guys will be the guys wearing the letters. We have an unbelievable group in the room and unlimited leadership.”
With relatively similar time served with the Hurricanes, the offensive and defensive captain choices rounded out the team concept that Peters felt was important to reinforce the form of leadership he desired.
Staal, drafted by Pittsburgh in the first-round (second overall) of the 2006 NHL Draft, has posted 436 points (187g, 249a) in 764 career NHL games with Pittsburgh and Carolina.
In six seasons with the Hurricanes, the 29-year-old center has tallied 188 points (67g, 121a) in 333 career games.
Carolina’s second-round pick (37th overall) in the 2010 NHL Draft, the 25-year-old Faulk has recorded 192 points (66g, 126a) in 401 career NHL games.
The decision of naming co-captains was a departure from the individual captains Carolina has had, including Kevin Dineen, Keith Primeau, Francis, Rod Brind’Amour and most recently Eric Staal who served in the position before being traded to the New York Rangers back in February 2016.
“I think with our leadership group, it doesn’t have to be a burden for anybody to be the leader on this team,” Peters continued.
“Now, in my opinion, is the right time to name the co-captains. Our team is in a position to make a push (to make the playoffs) and fulfill our expectations.”
While both had worn A’s last season along with Skinner and Victor Rask, Staal and Faulk were appreciative of the opportunity to assume the role.
“A little bit of acknowledgement and honor to wear the C, and definitely a very exciting moment,” Staal said.
“It’s a huge honor for both of us,” Faulk added.
“Last year, and even the year before when Eric was traded, we had multiple leaders within the room. So, I don’t know it’s necessary that we’re gonna change anything in the room – that’s the beauty of it. With all the guys that can step up, and the two of us, we’re gonna continue to be ourselves and go about our day the same way. That’s kind of the position that we’re in. I think we’re both ready for it.”
Peter Koutroumpis, @pksport