DeCock: So far, Staal happy with Hurricanes' summer

ldecock@newsobserver.comJuly 9, 2012 

So far, Eric Staal has seen what he wanted to see this summer from the Carolina Hurricanes.

They added one elite player he knows well, his brother Jordan, went after some top free agents and pursued a trade for Rick Nash.

So they didn’t land Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, and walked away from negotiations for Nash in the face of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ lofty demands. Staal, who enters his third full season as captain, is encouraged by the Hurricanes’ newfound ambition -- as long as they’re not done.

“For me, just the fact that we’re even in the mix, that we threw offers out there to these elite guys, is exciting,” Staal said from Canada, where he’s avoiding the heat. “Sometimes you hear the same teams every year doing the same things. For us to be involved and make a pitch, it was big. We aren’t far off.

“We’ve got some very good pieces in place, and if we can add, like they’re saying, another elite forward, it will definitely put us in the mix among the top teams in the Eastern Conference. It’s exciting. I hope they’ll continue to push -- and not just grab anybody, but the right person for our group.”

Shane Doan’s name is the latest to surface, with his agent confirming Monday that the Hurricanes are one of the teams that have approached the free-agent forward. Doan’s stated preference is to remain with the Phoenix Coyotes, where he serves as captain, but he’s making contingency plans given the uncertainty over the franchise’s future.

Even at 35, the gritty winger would be a great fit with the Hurricanes, but they’ve gone after other big names this summer without success. Staal said he sent Parise a text message on July 1, and heard back a few days later, but never got a chance to make any kind of pitch on behalf of the Hurricanes. Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford also talked about taking Staal and coach Kirk Muller to any face-to-face meetings, although none materialized.

Staal was certainly willing, though. As the team parted company at the end of the season, the fifth without a playoff appearance in the six seasons since the team won the Stanley Cup, Staal expressed a willingness to do anything to help the Hurricanes add more elite talent. To date, he’s had the most success within his own family. As a first step, it’s nothing to sneeze at.

“Probably the most exciting part about it is, not only is he family and my brother, but he’s a very good player who’s still young and has great things ahead of him,” Staal said. “To get him and sign him long-term, it’s exciting for the organization and for me as a player on the team. The fact that we’re brothers and we’re at the age where we get to play together and compete night in, night out, and go through these experiences together is pretty awesome.”

Since Jordan’s new contract runs through 2023, and Eric’s deal expires in 2016, it would appear the younger Staal brother cost the older one some leverage when it comes time to re-negotiate with the Hurricanes.

Eric chuckled for a moment, then got the last laugh.

“Maybe he did,” Staal said. “You never know. We’ll get four good years. Maybe after four years, we’ll be sick of each other.”

DeCock:, (919) 829-8947, Twitter: @LukeDeCock

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