RALEIGH — Jeff Skinner was back in town Wednesday, back skating with some Carolina Hurricanes teammates at Raleigh Center Ice.
And, he said, he is still unsure where he will be skating next.
Skinner has been home in Markham, Ont., since the NHL lockout began Sept. 16. He has stayed busy, saying he has conditioning workouts five times a week with former Canes forward Gary Roberts while skating three times a week.
“I’m just taking it day by day, seeing how it goes,” said Skinner, a forward. “It’s tough to make plans because you don’t know if things are going to change. So you just take it day by day.”
Skinner, the 2011 Calder Trophy winner, was one of 28 players assigned by the Hurricanes to Charlotte of the American Hockey League on Sept. 15, the day the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement expired. That made him eligible to play in the AHL, but he was given permission by the Hurricanes to remain home in Canada and train on his own rather than reporting to the Checkers.
Skinner said Wednesday he was not headed to the Checkers, who will play their home opener Sunday at Time Warner Cable Arena, but would skate a few times with the Canes at RCI and likely go back to Toronto.
“I’ll see how these workouts go here,” he said. “I had a good training program going on at home, so I’ll probably head back within the next week. I’ll just play with the guys (at RCI) until then.”
Skinner said he drove to Raleigh with his father, Andy, to check on his apartment and to see some teammates at RCI. On Wednesday, he joined Eric and Jordan Staal, Jussi Jokinen, Jay Harrison and others, and appeared to be having fun.
Skinner, 20, also had a different look – longer hair. Maybe not a Justin Faulk-like flow, but a flow.
“I just figured to change it up and let it grow for a while,” he said, smiling.
Like many NHL players, Skinner is getting antsy. He understands the need for player solidarity in insisting on a fair CBA, but he also wants to play.
“We’re all hockey players, so that’s what we want to do,” he said. “Everyone, I think, is pretty anxious and everyone is ready to go.”
If the lockout lingers, he might look to join the exodus of players going overseas. More than 200 NHL players have made the move and there will be more to follow.
“I’m not really ruling out any options right now,” Skinner said. “I’m just looking into everything. It’s something my agent (Rick Curran) is going to explore. He’ll get back to me when he has something me and my family can talk about, and we’ll go from there.”
Living in the Toronto area, Skinner is inundated with constant stories and media reports about the lockout, about the CBA talks. He said he tries to keep up with the latest news, but only to a point.
“You don’t want to get caught up in all the rumors and speculation, but at the same time I want to be informed,” he said. “I’m pretty up to date on what’s going on, but my focus has been on my training.”