So how is it that someone who was a nationally-ranked figure skater as a kid raises concerns about his ability on the blades? Hurricanes rookie Jeff Skinner has heard those knocks since the scouting reports on him began to emerge when he was a junior player, even if they tended to be always tempered with glowing remarks about his ability to score.
Not that it really bothered the five-foot-10, 193-pound forward, who as a child had a role as extra in the movie “Death to Smoochy” with Danny DeVito and Robin Williams because of his skating and is now opening eyes with his overall play this season for Carolina.
“I guess I have an interesting stride,” said Skinner, who gave up figure skating to concentrate on hockey when he was 12. “I’m a shorter guy that has sort of a longer stride and that’s not really common. Usually shorter guys have longer strides and quicker feet, but I think I have a more powerful stride.”
Skinner, 18, said that comes from what he learned from using the skinny blades, skills he believes helped his edge worked and ultimately his hockey game. But he understands that's also why many people tend to question his skating, although none of them are in Carolina these days.
“It depends what you’re looking at it,” Carolina GM Jim Rutherford said. “If you’re looking at pure speed from point A to point B, that’s not the type of skater he is. Jeff isn’t the fastest guy around, but he’s very agile and a very strong skater.”
Not to mention being a deceptive one, according to his coach.
“It doesn’t look like he’s going fast because he has a very unusual gait, but he slides by people somehow and beats them,” Paul Maurice said. “If the one thing about him is that he’s not a great skater then he’s going to be a great player who’s not a great skater.
“It’s like saying you’re a good coach but you’re ugly. If you’re still a great player, it doesn’t matter what part of your elements aren’t there. And at 18, he’s damn good player.”