With Tuesday’s RecZone debut of Tom Kostopoulos, nearly every member of the Hurricanes roster is now participating.
There are a few exceptions, as the team’s three Finnish players, newcomer Stephane Yelle and Matt Cullen have yet to arrive, but all should be in Raleigh in the coming days. Prospects Drayson Bowman and Brett Carson are in attendance to help round out the group.
That’s led to a much bigger set of players at the ongoing informal practices, where passes are going tape-to-tape more and more often as the rust continues to shake off.
For Kostopoulos and Andrew Alberts, who participated in his first skate on Monday, it’s a good chance to get to know new teammates and new surroundings alike. Provided they aren’t immediately scared off, that is.
“I stepped right in to one of Pete Friesen’s workouts, so that was nice,” said Kostopoulos, referring to the team’s head trainer/strength and conditioning coach. “He’s great. He had a lot of intensity this morning.”
Although that intensity left Friesen a little hoarse afterwards, it’s something most players welcome this time of year as they attempt to get back into shape ahead of training camp. For the new players, however, getting acclimated to a new team is just as important.
“Anytime you can come in early and spend some more time with the team before training camp it always helps out,” said Alberts, who arrived in town late Saturday night following a 20-hour drive from Minnesota. “You get to know the players and some of the drills, which makes it easier.”
Some ties already exist. Alberts already knew Erik Cole and Chad LaRose from the 2007 IIHF World Championship and played with Aaron Ward in Boston, while Kostopoulos played with Joe Corvo and Tim Gleason during his time with the Los Angeles Kings. This is Alberts’ third NHL stop and Kostopoulos’ fourth.
“Everyone here has been pretty nice and showing me around, which has made it a lot easier, and it’s good to see a few familiar faces” said Kostopoulos. “You hear around the league how close-knit this team is and how good of a group it is, so it’s nice to get to know some of them.”