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Five Questions with Eric Staal

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Michael Smith

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The Canes hosted media day at PNC Arena on Tuesday, Sept. 1. With training camp fast approaching, and the local media sat down with a number of players for wide-ranging, informal chats.

Here are five questions with Canes forward Eric Staal. There's a certain learning curve for a team in year one under a new coach. Heading into year two under Bill Peters, what's different?

Eric Staal: For the guys that have been here, you know what he is, what he expects and how he wants us to play. I’m sure there will be some tweaks here and there. I’m sure he’s watched a lot of video and broken things down over the summer. For the most part, you know his style, how he sees a good game and how he sees good plays. With that comfort level going into camp, it’s a good thing for the guys that have been here. It will help right off the bat.

Media: You’ve been out of the playoffs now for six years. How tough has that been?

Staal: It’s been extremely difficult. For me, you know your career is only one time through. The dream is winning Stanley Cups and being in the playoffs. I’ve only tasted the playoffs twice, and fortunately I’ve had the benefit of winning the Stanley Cup. You can never take that away from someone, and that’s something I’m very proud of. But you want those opportunities every year. It’s been a long time and difficult to watch. … It’s something I want to be a part of again.

Media: How do you plan to deal with the weight of looming contract talks?

Staal: I’m not worried about it too much, to be honest. I’m focusing on starting off the season like I normally would any other year. Sure, I’ll get those questions, but how many different answers can you give? It’s going to be the same answer over and over. I can get good at that. It’s not that hard. For me, I’m focusing on what I’m doing and helping this team win games, especially early in the year. I know that’s going to help if we can get off to a good start and play real well. … I’m not the only guy going into this year on the last year of his deal. There are a lot of guys in the same situation, some pretty good players on other teams that have one year left [on their contract]. I’m not overly stressed about it. I’m going to play hard and do what I can to try to help this team get off to a good start.

Media: Are you going into this year thinking of yourself as a center or a winger?

Staal: I haven’t talked to Bill as far as what his lineup looks like. I know a lot of it was game-to-game with teams we were playing against and how we lined up and matched our lines. I think I’m a better center, but I can play wing. Whether you’re playing center or wing, if you’re playing with good players, you find a way. When I was with Jordan, we had the puck a lot. You want to score a little bit more, but we definitely had the puck a lot and created a lot. Now you want to take the next step and finish more. How do you think three-on-three overtime will work out? Do you think you’ll see a lot of games decided before the shootout?

Staal: I would think so. We’ve played a little three-on-three this last week, and it’s wide open. You can’t coach that. I don’t know how they’re going to do it. It will definitely be a little more exciting than four-on-four. There is going to be more offense, more two-on-ones, chances, guys taking chances. I think it will be fun, and hopefully it will end more games without a shootout.

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