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Darling embraces competition against Mrazek with Hurricanes

Goalie says each 'trying to prove that we can be the guy' after disappointing season

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Scott Darling hopes competition for the starting goaltending job with the Carolina Hurricanes will help him improve his game.

Carolina agreed to terms with Petr Mrazek on a one-year contract July 1 to challenge Darling for playing time. Darling was 13-21-7 with a 3.18 goals-against average and.888 save percentage last season, the lowest among the 56 NHL goalies to play at least 20 games.

"Having Petr come in will be good," Darling told the Hurricanes website. "He's kind of in the same boat as me; we're both trying to prove that we can be the guy we're supposed to be. ... We're both coming off years where we wished for better results. It's good for both of us to be pushed. I think it's only going to better for the whole organization to have both of us working as hard as we can to beat each other out while still having a good goaltending relationship."

 

[RELATED: Team Reset: Carolina Hurricanes]

 

Mrazek, 26, was 14-13-6 with a 3.03 GAA and .902 save percentage last season, including 6-6-3 with a 3.22 GAA and .891 save percentage after he was traded by the Detroit Red Wings to the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 19.

"We've texted a bit since he's signed," Darling said. "We've played against each other for a long time, actually. I played against him in the ECHL, we played against each other in the [American Hockey League] for a while and then obviously in the NHL. He's shown too that he can be an elite goalie."

Video: CAR@FLA: Darling makes glove save on Yandle

Darling, 29, who was traded to the Hurricanes from the Chicago Blackhawks on April 28, 2017, and agreed to terms on a four-year contract May 6, 2017, split time with Cam Ward last season. Ward, an unrestricted free agent, agreed to a one-year contract with the Blackhawks on July 1.

In addition to Mrazek, the Hurricanes acquired defenseman Dougie Hamilton, forward Micheal Ferland and defenseman prospect Adam Fox on June 23 in a trade from the Calgary Flames for defenseman Noah Hanifin and forward Elias Lindholm. They also signed defenseman Calvin de Haan to a four-year contract.

The Hurricanes were 36-35-11 last season, 14 points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. They have not qualified for the playoffs in nine seasons.

"Obviously, we didn't have success last year with the group we had, so it's nice to change it up," Darling said. "That's exciting. And then to get that second overall draft pick (forward Andrei Svechnikov) was huge too."

Carolina also will have a new coach. Rod Brind'Amour was hired May 8 to replace Bill Peters, who resigned April 20 and was hired as Flames coach three days later. Brind'Amour, who was an assistant with the Hurricanes the past seven seasons, was their captain when they won the Stanley Cup in 2006.

"He played the game," Darling said. "He had such a great career and he knows hockey so well. It's going to be nice to have his opinions come to the top in what he thinks we should do. He was great as an assistant coach, and I'm excited to see how he does as a head coach."

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