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Spacek makes quick impression on new team

by Patrick Williams /
WINNIPEG -- Jaroslav Spacek began his day with the Montreal Canadiens and ended it by skating 19:15 and collecting two assists for the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes acquired the 37-year-old Spacek from Montreal for defenseman Tomas Kaberle on Friday morning prior to their 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Spacek had only two hours after receiving notice of the deal to board a Winnipeg-bound flight and arrive in time for the contest.

"It was crazy all day," Spacek said.

With Joni Pitkanen and Jay Harrison sidelined with injuries, Carolina coach Kirk Muller did not hesitate to insert Spacek, who had three assists in 12 games this season with Montreal, into his club's defensive rotation.

"That's his game -- just play steady, move the puck," Muller said. "I thought that for anyone who hasn't played [since Nov. 14], he jumped in and played OK."

Muller is familiar with Spacek from their two seasons together in Montreal, and he will lean on the veteran Czech to mentor youngsters Jamie McBain and Justin Faulk. Muller paired Spacek with Faulk, who scored his first NHL goal in the third period.

"The second half of the game I started to feel much better and more comfortable," said Spacek.

Spacek welcomed the move to Carolina, particularly at an early enough point in the season to allow him to settle in with the club. He will be an unrestricted free-agent after this season and is treating the move as an audition for next summer.

"It's a new organization," Spacek said. "A new chance to show what kind of player I am. I had had a feeling from the beginning of the season [that he could be moved]. It's really better for me to go somewhere else to prove I can still play. For me, it's much better to be here now than later."

While Spacek was in the lineup, the Hurricanes went without the services of leading scorer Jeff Skinner for the first time in the second-year player's career. Skinner participated in the team’s morning skate at the MTS Centre, but was a late scratch with what the club described as the flu.

The absence ended Skinner's streak of 112 consecutive regular-season games played.
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