Canes return to practice

Picard works out with new team

Staff writerFebruary 25, 2010 

— The Carolina Hurricanes resumed practice Wednesday, and defenseman Alexandre Picard was both a new face in their midst on the ice and a reminder theirs is a team in flux.

Picard was acquired by the Hurricanes as part of the Feb. 12 trade that sent veteran forward Matt Cullen to the Ottawa Senators. That deal came just a few days after veteran defenseman Niclas Wallin was dealt to the San Jose Sharks.

The Hurricanes will play their first game after the two-week break for the Olympics on March 2 against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. The NHL trade deadline is the next day, and other changes to the Canes' roster are expected.

"You know what, it's been like that all year," coach Paul Maurice said Wednesday. "We've had so many guys going down [to injuries]. We went a month and a half practicing with fewer guys than we had out here today.

"I know there's potentially going to be some changes. Then the question is what kids will come up to fill those holes if they're there? We're still waiting to see if our injured guys are coming back."

Forwards Chad LaRose and Erik Cole have been sidelined with injuries, and Scott Walker missed 21 games after undergoing shoulder surgery. LaRose and Walker are expected to be able to play when the season resumes, but Cole's status still is uncertain as he continues to be slowed by an upper-body injury that knocked him out of the past 31 games.

The Hurricanes reassigned forwards Zach Boychuk and Steven Goertzen, along with goaltender Justin Peters, to the Albany River Rats of the American Hockey League after their last game before the Olympic break, a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Peters, the winning goalie against the Devils, soon should be recalled by the Canes, and he may not be the only one.

The Canes have four players competing in the Vancouver Olympics -- Eric Staal of Team Canada, Tim Gleason of Team USA and Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen of Finland. Maurice said he would like to give those players some rest before the Toronto game, but he noted it may not be possible given the Olympic schedule and the travel back to Raleigh.

Picard, 24, arrived in Raleigh on Tuesday night and met his new teammates Wednesday at the RecZone. His first home game with the Canes will be March 4 against the Senators.

Picard, smiling, noted he was reminded about the game by the Ottawa media just after the trade.

"I told them I would look to impress my new boss instead of my old ones," he said.

chip.alexander@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8945

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