My Puck: A Story of the Carolina Hurricanes New Identity

My Puck: A Story of the Carolina Hurricanes New Identity

Matt’s editorial note: With the buzz and optimism around Canes hockey this summer, Cory could not help but return from his summer break way early. There are no guarantees in professional sports (Canes fans know that too well lately), but I hope you share his optimism and energy. I do.   A storm is coming. Can you feel it? Disclaimer: Author is 100% allowed to use cheesy clichés in his ridiculous excitement for the coming of hockey season The Carolina Hurricanes have had one of the best offseasons in recent memory this summer. The problem is, the offseason means nothing and we all are just bouncing in our seats in anticipation of seeing if the 2017-18 Canes can deliver on the ice. But seeing as that’s two months off, let’s just keep distracting ourselves with the bright situation, shall we?   Yay, Our First Real Post-Cup Identity! Let’s embrace the fact that, for the first time in years, the Carolina Hurricanes have an identity. For years, it seemed like the team had none, or at the very least, was something like “They Whom Are Beholden to Family Staal.” (There are worse identities.)  The truth as we’ve all come to painfully know, is that we coasted on our Cup win for about 8 years. As names like Brind’Amour, Whitney, Cole, and Williams disappeared, so did the identity. For years it was just sitting there hoping Eric Staal and Cam Ward could turn it back to their Cup days and bring us a taste of the playoffs. Then for several more years, it was the painful process of rebuild, a gigantic...
The relationship between Marcus Kruger and Jordan Staal

The relationship between Marcus Kruger and Jordan Staal

The biggest news on the Hurricane 2017-18 roster-building front in the past few days and since the Justin Williams signing was the acquisition of center Marcus Kruger from the Las Vegas Golden Knights for a fifth-round draft pick in 2017. I wrote about Marcus Kruger, the trade and where I think he fits in the Hurricanes lineup shortly after the trade was announced. Then on Wednesday, Jordan Staal’s name popped up in a few places as a trade target for the Penguins. Like it or not, this debate is a harbinger of things to come in the next 4-6 weeks as real hockey news grinds to a halt and ‘we should trade ___ for ____’ speculation ratchets up and increasingly reaches new highs for lack of logic. In the next 4-5 weeks, alleged Hurricanes trades will certainly include all four of the team’s top 4 defensemen and at least four or five of the team’s best forwards. On Wednesday, I threw some cold water on the Jordan Staal rumblings that represent the first wave of what will likely be a busy next 4-6 weeks fending off unreasonable claims on all of the Hurricanes best players. And if you missed it, the Thursday Coffee Shop sorting out the depth forwards was a lively one. Amidst all of the great analysis and opinions on the various roster options an absolutely tremendous combination of Hurricanes grocery store analogies buried in the middle caused me to blow beverage all over my computer screen.   Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at both of the two players featured in recent articles in looking at...
Addressing the Jordan Staal trade rumors

Addressing the Jordan Staal trade rumors

One tell-tale sign that the hockey off-season is approaching the news-less desert of mid-July through August is when the volume of wild trade ideas suddenly increases. And on cue for the Hurricanes, we may be seeing the beginning with Jordan Staal’s name popping up in the ‘we should get ___’ online debates these days. Ryan Wilson who I respect for his writing and analysis wrote a reasonable article on this topic identifying Staal as a fit for what the Penguins need and correctly asserting that Staal was not going to come cheap for some random collection of draft picks and depth players. With Jordan Staal’s name now out there and not much happening for the next 4-6 weeks, I figure it is just a matter of days until the Rangers fans try to offer Nick Holden and a mid-round draft pick to trump the Pens and win the deal.   The need and wanting glances actually make sense In terms of teams shopping for needs, Jordan Staal completely makes sense. There suddenly seems to be a shortage of ‘any situation’ top 9 centers, and much of that shortage interesting resides with top-tier teams who are looking to win now. The Rangers parted with Derek Stepan and thus far have only added David Desharnais. The Penguins lost Nick Bonino. The Chicago Blackhawks saw Marcus Kruger become their latest cap casualty. After dealing Travis Hamonic for picks and not Matt Duchene, the Islanders still lack a true top 6 center to slot behind John Tavares. And now minus cap casualty Marcus Johansson, the Capitals could also be looking for a solid...
Jordan Staal: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

Jordan Staal: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

For anyone catching up, a menu of previous player (and also coach and GM) report cards can be found at the bottom of the article. Jordan Staal’s starting point for the 2016-17 season In his third season with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2015-16, Jordan Staal had his best season wearing red, black and white. His season was nothing special out of the gate, but he was front and center when the team finally found the ignition switch in early December. Flanked by Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil, the line seemingly light on high-end talent and recognized names was the team’s best on many nights during a surge that lasted from early December through late February. Jordan Staal led the way collecting and winning loose pucks in the defensive zone and serving as a one-man break out that regularly carried the puck through the neutral zone and was able to make a play at the offensive blue line to keep possession entering the offensive zone. When the dust settled on the 2015-16 season, Staal had collected a respectable (second on the team) 48 points, reestablished himself as a shutdown center and staked a strong claim to being the Hurricanes’ most valuable player for the season.   Jordan Staal’s 2016-17 season with the Carolina Hurricanes The 2016-17 season started with some uncertainty for Staal. After a serious back injury in late February of 2016, Andrej Nestrasil’s readiness to start the 2016-17 season was in question. Nestrasil ultimately made the opening night lineup but was unable to find the level he played at before his injury. Nordstrom also started slowly, and very...
Jordan Staal: Evaluation based on role and situation

Jordan Staal: Evaluation based on role and situation

Jordan Staal started the 2015-16 season a bit slow. His scoring was light just like 2014-15, but for me it was more about him just not being a physical presence often enough and playing the shutdown brand of hockey that is his foundation as a hockey player. It is not that he was bad in October and November, it is just that I was hoping for something more like…well December and January. Coinciding nearly perfectly with the team turning around its season was the surge of Jordan Staal. He has pretty consistently been 1 of the 3-4 best (if not the single best) players on the ice in many games. On slow scoring nights, he and his line mates Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil are playing as many minutes as possible against the opponents’ best lines and giving up very little. And they are driving possession in the offensive zone such that it often builds momentum for the next shift when the other team spends 40 seconds playing defense or battling for pucks in their own end before trying to get to the red line to dump the puck and give up possession in the process to get a line change. This wins a shift and sets up the next 1 with a great starting point. Canes fans who watch the Hurricanes game in and game out and appreciate how well Jordan Staal is playing right now, but I am not sure the rest of the hockey world does. The trolls take a quick look at his scoring totals and start bashing him based upon his salary. It is...