PITTSBURGH -- Jordan Staal went through a stressful couple of days leading into a weekend he’s not likely to forget.
Staal married his fiancée Friday afternoon at home in Thunder Bay, Ont. Hours after the ceremony he found out he had been traded from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Carolina Hurricanes. Several of his wedding guests became ex-teammates during the reception. Another guest, older brother Eric, went from rival to teammate.
"Even though we knew it might be coming, it was still a shock," Jordan Staal said during a teleconference Saturday. "It was very tough to kind of take it all it in. It was a very emotional day, not only with the wedding but being traded. It was some very good news that I was moved on to a great place and I’m very excited about that."
Staal was the first draft choice Ray Shero made after becoming Pittsburgh’s general manager in 2006 and was an all-rookie selection as an 18-year-old. In six seasons with the Penguins, Staal became one of the cornerstones of the franchise, an excellent two-way center and one of the team’s top penalty-killers.
Where his career could go from here was the biggest issue for Staal. He turns 24 in September and set a career-high in points (50) this past season after scoring 25 goals and adding 25 assists. But those numbers were accrued with Sidney Crosby missing much of the season because of injury. With Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both healthy, Staal was uncertain of his role moving forward.
Staal has one more year on his contract. He confirmed the Penguins offered him a 10-year extension, and that he turned it down.
"I did get offered a deal with Pittsburgh, but when I heard about it I wasn’t really comfortable with it yet. I really just kind of wanted to wait it out and play next year," Staal said. "Without playing with Sid and Geno together in the lineup for so long, I didn’t know how it was going to end up. I kind of wanted to test the waters and see how it is, but obviously Ray was in a very difficult situation and decided to move me on."
By moving to Raleigh, N.C., and joining the Hurricanes, Staal will have the chance to play with his oldest brother. They played together for Canada at the 2007 IIHF World Championships in Moscow, and won a gold medal.
Jordan Staal dealt to HurricanesBy Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer
In the biggest news of the first round, the Penguins traded Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes for the No. 8 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, center Brandon Sutter and defense prospect Brian Dumoulin.
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Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford said after completing the trade it was "no secret" in the hockey world that the Staal brothers were interested in playing together at some point in their careers. A third brother, Marc, plays for the New York Rangers, and a fourth, Jared, is a prospect in Carolina's system.
"We had talked about it a little bit I think with all my brothers and my parents," Staal said. "It was something that we would all really like to do. It is not too often to have brothers in the NHL, but to be able to play alongside one is a pretty special thing. If I did sign that 10-year extension, my chance to play with Eric would probably have dwindled a lot. It is a very exciting time for myself and for Eric and our family. ... It is going to be a neat time in my career."
Staal said he had no hard feelings with the organization, and will keep a "soft spot" in his heart for the city and the fans. His first trip back in Pittsburgh with Carolina is scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving.
His agent was at the wedding and was the first to tell Staal the news of the deal. He then told the Penguins players who were there.
"That was the toughest part," Staal said. "I have a lot of great friends on that team. The timing of the whole trade was tough, but it was definitely nice once we talked about it for a bit to be able to just hang out with the guys and talk with them -- instead of just texting them, to be able to hang out with them and say our goodbyes almost. It was unfortunate timing, but I think it worked out for the best.
"That whole organization was unbelievable to me. I had some unbelievable years, obviously winning the Cup there, and doing a lot of great things in Pittsburgh. It is unfortunate to move on, but it is definitely a new, exciting chapter for me."