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Samsonov, Ruutu Return to Chicago

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes

Despite not playing in Chicago for nearly four years, Wednesday’s game against the Blackhawks will bring the Canes more familiarity than they might have expected earlier in the season.

Due to three separate transactions that have taken place since January between Carolina and Chicago, the rare meeting between these two teams will give several players a chance to renew acquaintances.

Former Canes Craig Adams and Andrew Ladd will be in the lineup for Chicago, while Sergei Samsonov and Tuomo Ruutu make their return to the Windy City.  In addition, Kevyn Adams, while not traded this season, will also be facing Carolina for the first time since leaving Raleigh in January of 2007.

“It will be interesting, especially seeing a few guys on their team that have worn our colors and now they’re over there, so it will be a little bit different,” said Eric Staal, who has only played one game in Chicago in his career.  “It will be good to see them.”

It’s an especially quick reunion for Ladd and Ruutu, who were traded for one another at the trade deadline only two weeks ago.

“It’s kind of weird.  We don’t play too often, but now when the trade happened, bang, against each other right away,” said Ruutu.  “I only think I played against Carolina once in four years, so it’s good luck that we’re actually playing against Chicago right away.”

Chicago came through Carolina two years ago, a 5-3 victory for the Canes, but Ruutu missed that game due to injury.  He did have an impact in his lone game against the Hurricanes back on March 17, 2004, scoring his 18th goal as a rookie for the Blackhawks.

Incidentally, Craig Adams scored for Carolina in that game, while current Hurricanes’ third-string goaltender Michael Leighton made 46 saves for Chicago despite taking a 3-2 loss.

Samsonov, claimed on re-entry waivers by Carolina, spent considerably less time in Chicago than Ruutu, only appearing in 23 games with the Blackhawks this season as opposed to 228 over four seasons for his Finnish teammate.

Still, his return as an overwhelming success in Carolina to a team that couldn’t find room for him on its NHL roster is intriguing, even if the player himself doesn’t see it that way.

“I think one game doesn’t mean anything,” he said.  “What are you going to prove?  I think you’re going to prove [something] over the course of a period of time and I really don’t have anything to prove to anybody but myself.  I don’t look at it as trying to make somebody wrong.”

It’s true enough that Samsonov has done plenty of talking with his play alone, racking up 24 points in 27 games with Carolina after registering no goals and only four assists in 23 games in Chicago. 

His nearly point-per-game pace since joining the Hurricanes makes it a strong possibility that he’ll appear on the score sheet against his former club, but if he does, he says it will be fueled by the desire for two points in the standings rather than personal revenge.

“In a way it’s not important I guess.  It’s just another game for me personally,” he said.  “I wasn’t there long enough to be attached I guess.  To me it’s just another game.”

If nothing else, the two Chicago transplants can provide a scouting report on a team the Canes don’t get to see too much of.

“They’re actually playing pretty well right now,” said Samsonov.  “They’ve been struggling for a little bit, but they’ve been playing great for the last month or so.  It’s a hard-working team, especially at home.  They start off well, and they’ve got all the tools.  They’ve got a great offense, great goaltending and they play solid D, so we just have to be ready.”

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