Eric celebrates with fellow YoungStars Michael Ryder
and Patrice Bergeron.
Carolina's Eric Staal: Taking Carolina by Storm by NHL | July 28, 2004Eric Staal grew up in Ontario on the sod farm his father and uncle co-owned. Every summer Eric went back to Thunder Bay and helped the family out, including the summer of 2003 when he was the Carolina Hurricane's first draft pick, second overall. This summer, however, Eric has earned the time off.
Staal showed Carolina, and the rest of the NHL, why he was the second pick in last year's draft. He became only the sixth player in the Hartford/Carolina franchise's history to play more than 50 games the first season after being drafted. Eric was one of 22 players selected to play in the 2004 YoungStars Game and finished the season with 11 goals and 20 assists.
But no matter how successful he becomes, Eric will never forgets his roots. He started playing hockey at 4 years old and his father, Henry, built a rink for his sons and nephew in between the two houses. Henry built it out of a few particle-boards "borrowed" from local rinks. Each November, he would use a neighbor's septic-tank truck, steam clean it and use it to lay down a sheet of ice. Eventually, the family added lights and the boys were able to play to their hearts content.
All that hard work and practice obviously paid off for the Staal boys. Eric is one of the few players who have been able to successfully make the jump from junior hockey right to the NHL. His cousin, Jeff Heerema, was also a first-round pick of the Hurricanes in 1998. One of Eric's brothers is playing junior hockey and another is predicted to be a top pick in this year's Ontario League draft.
Eric may be using this summer to relax and prepare for next season, but be sure to check out the 'Canes next year as they try to return to the Stanley Cup Finals!
Eric beats Atlanta's Vyacheslav Kozlov to the puck.
Who was your favorite hockey player growing up? My favorite player growing up would be Wayne Gretzky. I idolized him as a kid.
What do you do when you don't have a hockey game? Usually I just relax and hang out with a few guys on the team -- Jesse Boulerice and Ryan Bayda. We just hang out, watch TV and play some Tiger Woods Golf on Playstation 2.
Are there any sports you positively stink at? If you consider bowling a sport, that would be something I am terrible at.
Is it challenging to suddenly be playing with teammates who are significantly older than you? No, I don't think so. I think everyone in here, especially the older guys, have made me feel really comfortable.
What TV shows do you like to watch in re-runs? I like The Simpsons, and probably Seinfeld would be the other show that I watch in reruns.
Do you get nervous before a game? If so, how do you deal with it? Well, you get a few butterflies in your stomach, especially if it is a big game. But once the game gets started, they are all gone and you're ready to go.
Favorite halloween costume? I don't really have one of those.
Chunky or smooth (peanut butter)? Smooth.
Name: Eric Staal
Hometown: Thunder Bay, Ontario