Hurricanes usher in Staal era

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

It was only a matter of time before Eric Staal became captain of the Carolina Hurricanes.

As the team's best player, it could be argued he was already the leader of the club.

However, it didn't become official until he was given the captaincy on Jan. 20, taking over from Rod Brind'Amour.

"There was a lot of talk about it -- Rod and (GM) Jim (Rutherford) had a lot of discussions about it before I had anything to do with it," Staal said.

"From there, Jim approached me and said he wanted to make a change. Obviously I wanted to talk to Rod about it first.

"The first thing he was worried about was me, and worried about taking it over in the middle of the season and everything that goes with it.

"But between Rod and I, our relationship hasn't changed and obviously I get a chance to get my feet wet and learn from a great captain and someone that led me and our team to a Stanley Cup championship. I get to learn from a pretty good guy and do my best to work on it every night now."

Heading into Monday's game against the Edmonton Oilers, Staal led the Hurricanes in scoring with 43 points in 42 games. The rising star has been the face of the franchise for the past couple of seasons and the move ushered in a changing of the guard in Carolina.

"It was very seamless, because it wasn't a reaction to the fact that we were losing so many games," said Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice.

"It was something that Rod and Jim Rutherford had talked about over the course of last season.

"But we got to the conference final and there was no need to change anything. But that change was coming.

"Everybody knew that this coming summer we were going to be getting a lot younger."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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