The Hurricanes will be without Eric Staal
for at least two games, as the forward has been given a personal leave of absence due to the death of his sister-in-law, Tamara Stephenson, who endured a long struggle with cancer. She was 26 years old.
Official press release can be found here
Staal has returned to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where his wife’s family also calls home. He was not at Wednesday’s practice and his eventual return date is unclear, although it’s almost certain he will miss Thursday and Friday contests at Nashville and at home against Colorado, respectively.
“He’s taken his family home to be with them at a very difficult time,” said coach Paul Maurice. “It’s something that the family has been going through, and I guess we can say our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
Maurice said that the Hurricanes will recall yet another forward before the Nashville game. That yet-to-be-named player would join Zach Boychuk
and Jiri Tlusty
, who were recalled Tuesday to replace a group of injured forwards. In total, the Canes are expected to dress five forwards who started the season in the American Hockey League.
Line combinations for Thursday are not set, with Maurice saying he plans to change them during the game.
“It will be a little bit fluid during the game, too,” he said. “We’re going to move a number of those young players in and out, but they are going to play.”
For what it’s worth, and it may not be much with only 11 forwards participating, units from Wednesday’s practice can be found here. I’m guessing on that fourth line right wing as I’m unable to leave empty spots on the depth chart.