The Hurricanes officially named their alternate captains on Thursday, bestowing the designation upon defenseman Tim Gleason
and center Brandon Sutter
Although admittedly honored, both players predictably downplayed the move following that days’ practice.
“I’m not going to change anything,” said Gleason. “I think what I’ve done so far is what I’m going to keep doing.”
“There are a lot of guys in the room that are capable of wearing the letter and they just had to pick a couple,” said Sutter.
For the most part, those statements are interchangeable with Eric Staal’s commentary following his rise to the rank of captain last season. He echoed those sentiments after Thursday’s announcement, but there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that things have changed for the man now wearing the C.
“Through training camp I can’t say enough about how Eric Staal has assumed that role in his first camp and been the leader on the ice,” said coach Paul Maurice.
“Even from the short time I was here last year, I’ve definitely noticed that Eric is a lot more vocal during training camp,” said Jamie McBain.
That being said, Maurice said that he does not expect his new alternates to undergo a dramatic transformation for the time being, as veterans like Erik Cole, Joe Corvo, Chad LaRose and Joni Pitkanen will continue to be counted upon as well.
“It’s not all on Eric or all on the three of these guys,” said Maurice. “On a team that has good chemistry and good leaders, the captains and the alternate captains are only there to deal with the referees. I’d like to think that with this group.”
If Gleason were to change anything, he seemed at least partially concerned that his demeanor in the locker room, which some teammates have apparently deemed “grouchy,” could make him seem unapproachable.
“If I’m going to go out there and play the way I do, it’s not something where you can come to the rink with a smile on your face,” he said. “Afterwards, I’m happy if we win.
“I’m just going to come to the rink knowing that there’s the possibility that one guy might look up to me,” continued Gleason. “I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’ll do my job consistently and whoever wants to follow can follow.”
Although he admitted to being somewhat intimidated by Gleason’s no-nonsense front at first, McBain acknowledged that Gleason fit the “lead-by-example” style that’s been displayed by every team leader since Ron Francis.
“He’ll speak up when something needs to be said, but his work day-in and day-out is definitely something you can follow,” said McBain.
While Staal (25) and Gleason (27) aren’t graybeards by any means, they seem so compared to Sutter, who is just 21 and in his third NHL season. Having such a young player in a leadership role is something that may not work for every team, but it doesn’t seem like that will be the case with the Hurricanes.
“Not with the group we have here,” said Staal. “We have a pretty good group of guys that know that they’re leaders in their own right. Whether you have a letter or not you’re still a leader and that doesn’t change.”
Gleason and Sutter will wear their new letters for the first time during tomorrow’s home game against Atlanta. With the exception of Anton Babchuk, Jay Harrison and Tom Kostopoulos, who will sit for Brett Carson, Bobby Sanguinetti and Jiri Tlusty, it will be the first time the team will display something close to a full-strength lineup this season.
Following today's practice, Maurice said that it is now looking even more unlikely that Sergei Samsonov will make the trip to Europe, meaning that everyone else currently on the roster will stay there for the time being.