MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- Justin Faulk will play for the St. Louis Blues against the Carolina Hurricanes at Enterprise Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-CR, NHL.TV), his first game against his former team since he was traded from Carolina to St. Louis on Sept. 24, 2019.
The defenseman played his first eight NHL seasons with the Hurricanes. The Blues signed Faulk to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract extension (average annual value $6.5 million) after the trade, which sent defenseman Joel Edmundson, forward prospect Dominik Bokk and a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft to Carolina.
The reigning Stanley Cup champion Blues (31-14-8) are first in the Western Conference with 70 points. The Hurricanes (30-19-3) have 63 points and hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, one point behind the New York Islanders.
Video: STL@WPG: Faulk stakes Blues to early lead
Faulk tried to downplay the game but admitted it's not easy to do.
"It's hard to say that you didn't know it was coming," Faulk said after practice Monday. "I knew that it was coming, but other than that I wasn't really thinking about it too much. It'll be good to see some guys and catch up with some old friends and old teammates. It'll be fun to play against them."
Chosen by the Hurricanes in the second round (No. 37) of the 2010 NHL Draft, Faulk has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 53 games for the Blues. He had 258 points (85 goals, 173 assists) in 559 regular-season games with the Hurricanes and helped them advance to the 2019 Eastern Conference Final, when they were swept by the Boston Bruins.
Video: CHI@STL: Faulk wires sharp wrister past Crawford
"I won't feel as bad for slashing guys and checking them whenever I do in practice sometimes," Faulk said. "I don't know, I haven't gone through it, so I can't really say what it'll be like tomorrow. But it should be fun, and I'll be excited. I obviously will want to win.
"It shouldn't be an issue coming to the rink and play. ... I'm not going to take it easy on anyone."
Faulk's teammates don't expect him to either.
"Either jump or a lot of raw emotions," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "It's weird, especially since he was in Carolina for I don't know how many years. He's never played a former team, so this is a first time for him.
"It's on us to try and help him out. It's a weird experience, especially going through it for the first time. You obviously have a lot of friends and you see that jersey you've worn for the last seven or eight years, whatever it was. I'm sure he's looking forward to it, getting it over with, but at the same time it's one of those games you don't forget. I'm sure he's had this one circled on the calendar for a while."
Edmundson, a second-round pick (No. 46) by the Blues in the 2011 NHL Draft, returns to the St. Louis for the first time since the trade. The defenseman helped the Blues win the Stanley Cup in 2019 for the first time in their 51-season history and has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 52 games this season. He will receive his Stanley Cup ring before the game.
"We came in together, we kind of started off together and just kind of bonded right off the hop," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said of Edmundson. "We spent a lot of time together trying to figure things out, trying to get things sorted out in this league. We were partners together. He's not only a good player but a really good guy, someone you love having on your team. We were fortunate enough to come into the League together, come onto the same team and then win a championship together. Pretty special and I'm looking forward to seeing him."