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Canada Tries Staal on the Left

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
With the Team Canada organizers facing a logjam at center, it appears they’re being a little creative in trying to fit the best players on their roster.

Paul Branecky
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Eric Staal, who hasn’t played on the wing since his rookie year in 2003-04 and spent only a small amount of time there as a youngster, spent all of last week’s Olympic orientation camp on the left side. During the camp’s final scrimmage, he started on a line with Jason Spezza and Corey Perry.

“It’s different when you’re used to playing center most your life and at certain times you play wing, but in the end it’s still hockey,” said Staal. “There are little adjustments you make as a player, but I feel like I’m a pretty versatile guy that can play in any situation and play it well.”

It isn’t a lock that Staal would be on the wing if he makes the team for the Olympics in Vancouver – a number of things can happen before the final roster is set in a few months – but the camp shows that it’s a real possibility. Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Thornton, Mike Richards and Eric’s brother Jordan headline the group of centers invited to the orientation camp, meaning that the team could maximize its roster by sliding one over to the wing. 

In that scenario, his versatility will help him make the team.  Even though he's admittedly more comfortable at center, he’d gladly take that move.  Still, he hopes that it won’t turn into a permanent thing with the Hurricanes, even if they’re another team with a solid group down the middle.

“I’d rather stick to my natural position for my team here,” he said.

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