Blog Entry

Growing pains

Posted on: January 20, 2010 2:36 pm

Reality has finally set in for the Carolina Hurricanes.

And this is it.

Their season is done -- has been for a long time too -- and waiting any longer to get a much-needed overhaul under way just doesn’t make sense. Best to start the process right away and maybe to find a face saving way to admit they’re throwing in the towel. Even if means embarrassing a loyal and long-serving foot solider in the process.

That’s the unfortunate part of Carolina naming Eric Staal to replace 39-year-old Rod Brind’Amour as captain. Brind’Amour has worn the “C” since the lockout and came to be recognized as one of the game’s best leaders in the process. And yet the ascension has been inevitable for Staal since he arrived in Carolina as a high-drafted teenager and was mentored first by Ron Francis, and more recently by Brind’Amour.

It’s the right choice too for the organization. Staal is 25, signed for life and the Hurricanes have effectively been his team since he led them to the 2006 Stanley Cup. Besides, they are out of this season’s playoff race as they have been for all intents and purposes since early November.

The organization deluded itself into thinking the aging group that rode a strong second half to a surprise playoff spot and two early round upsets had another run in it this season. Instead, Carolina had a miserable start, lost Staal and franchise goalie Cam Ward for long stretches, and got generally dismal efforts from a number from a number of veterans who look past their “best-before” dates.

Until now, the Hurricanes have been clinging to the notion they could magically turn things around again, but after another ugly effort in a home loss this week to Atlanta, they seem to have come to terms with the need to look beyond this season. And they made that clear by taking away the captaincy from a veteran.

It's a not-so-subtle way of telling someone their time is done, especially coming in mid-season rather than in the summer when it might have been a more graceful transition. But Carolina GM Jim Rutherford said the time was central to the decision, because he wanted Staal to understand what the role involves when times are tough.

Apparently Brind’Amour is on board with the idea. He’s a hard-nosed, old-time hockey type so that would preclude him from making waves. Especially since he has one year left on the lucrative extension he got for his integral role in the 2006 Cup win. Brind’Amour is a fitness fanatic and a two-time Selke winner as the best defensive forward, but he is getting older in a business that is getting decidedly young, and his game took a nose dive last season when he had a minus-23 rating.

There's no hiding that, particularly since that number hasn’t improved this year. It  won’t do much to help Brind’Amour interest a playoff contender that might for veteran help around the trade deadline when Carolina wants to be a big seller, so this move is a more of a way for the Hurricanes help ease Brind’Amour into retirement.

Rutherford did make it clear that Brind’Amour’s status beyond this season is undecided despite the remaining year on his contract, but that he would leave the call up to the player.

“We owe it to him for what he’s done for us,” Rutherford said on the Hurricanes team web site.

But when reality sets in, that’s all they owe.


Category: NHL

Since: Sep 25, 2007
Posted on: January 21, 2010 8:02 pm

Growing pains

Brindy had full veto power over the decision. He had already said no previously this season and had the chance to say no once more. He didn't and felt it was time to make the move as well, knowing that I don't think they did Brindy wrong at all.

Since: Aug 29, 2009
Posted on: January 21, 2010 6:13 pm

Growing pains

hockeynotsoccer, you got it right, my friend. nice post. i agree, rod brind'amour deserves better than that. 

Since: Sep 25, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2010 5:58 pm

Growing pains

Nice post there, but the article had it right. Staal was going to be captain of this team one way or another, not Gleason.  I don't like how they did it, but if Brindy was seriously on board for the decision. It was going to happen sooner or later and with how this season has gone, I think sooner was the only way for this to go. They have plenty of young talent at the Rat's, and will get the 1st or second pick and will be able to get Hall or sequin. It will be interesting and exciting to see what this team looks like next season. 

Since: Jan 10, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2010 5:03 pm

Growing pains

Just to be clear, HockeynotSoccer, is who I was referring too.

Since: Jan 10, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2010 5:02 pm

Growing pains

Five stars. I think you nailed it.

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: January 20, 2010 4:57 pm

Growing pains

Wow.  What a totally classless move by the Hurricanes (and I'm a diehard fan).  You don't embarrass a guy like Brind'Amour like that, you just...don't.  Rod deserved the chance to go out on his own terms.  What was the point of making Staal captain now, anyway?  They could have waited until after the season and it wouldn't have made one iota of difference.  What's this going to do?  Spur the team to win JUST enough games so they don't get the #1 pick in next year's draft?  Super!  Great plan, everyone!  This is a BS, head-scratcher of a move, period.

AND, Staal doesn't even DESERVE to be captain.  That would be TIM GLEASON, you know, the guy who saved Carolina against New Jersey and Boston last year, the guy who is having a career year, the one who always steps up to defend teammates, the guy who has shown the leadership on and off the ice that denotes a captain.  Not Staal.  Staal plays hurt, OK.  Good.  I like that.  But he plays soft and he goes into long slumps that drag everyone else down, too.  When Paul Maurice moved Staal to RW last month, Eric himself cheered the move and said it was "less responsible" defensively and he "didn't have to think" as much.  THAT'S what you want from your captain?!?

Sorry, Mo (and Jimmy Rutherford and anyone else who had something to do with this stupid decision), but you made a complete misjudgement here.  Maybe Gleason will still be around when you come to your senses, you dopes.

And Rod, on behalf of Hurricanes fans everywhere: thank you and you deserved a little better.

Since: Oct 8, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2010 3:38 pm

Growing pains

Wes, I normally criticize you when you speek of the Hurricanes, but this time I think you got it dead on the money. Expect more changes to come with the Hurricanes as this team will not be the same in 2010-11. The Hurricanes have many expiring contracts and the big speculation is will Ray Whitney be here in 2011 as he is a free agent at seasons end.  I also think Brind'amour will be traded as well, most likely to a team like the Flyers where he would have familiarity with Peter Laviolette and his system.

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