Eric Staal has an obvious rooting interest for Canada at the world junior later this month with his brother Marc on the club, but another one of his three brothers makes him just as proud.
Staal, a 22-year-old star with the Carolina Hurricanes, said he is not surprised his 18-year-old brother Jordan has had such a fine start with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"To be able to make an impact, he has eight goals and four short-handed, I think it is just phenomenal,"
Staal said. "Before we left (Thunder Bay) in the summer, we skated with a bunch of pro guys and just watching Jordan and the way he handled himself, he was no different. I told him there was no reason he should go back to junior -- just work your best and see what happens. I am really proud of him."
Entering last night's National Hockey League games, Jordan Staal's four short-handed goals were the most in the league. Few expected Jordan to stick with the Penguins. He had just two years of junior under his belt with the Peterborough Petes, one fewer than Eric spent with the storied Ontario Hockey League club.
But don't think that playing for the Petes and quickly making it to the NHL is just a coincidence. Eric does not see it that way.
"A lot of it has to do with the Petes," Eric said. "They create players who can play in the NHL. Jordan did not light it up there (recording 68 points in 68 games last season), but they create in you an all-round game."
Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice acknowledged his first foray into the RBC Center since being fired by Carolina three years ago was a weird one.
"You look at Roddy (Brind'Amour) skating around, but then you realize you don't know three quarters of the team," Maurice said. "It's not your team anymore, not your building, and today it feels like it has been a long time."
Johnny Bower will be signing copies of his new book, The China Wall: The Timeless Legend of Johnny Bower, at CentreSports at the Air Canada Centre today from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.