An enthusiastic crowd of over 1,500 fans watched and cheered the Carolina Hurricanes through their first day of training camp as coach Kirk Muller put his team through the paces. The club held physicals at 8 a.m. and then starting at 1 p.m., skated through a two-part, two hour on ice practice.
Carolina management was also very busy. As was previously reported, GM Jim Rutherford made two trades during the day.
The organization obviously felt that Ellis was a safer bet to backup Cam Ward than Boucher, and Justin Peters is still an option if Ellis does not work out, so it made sense to move the oft injured former Flyer. Westgarth has a total of 90 games of NHL experience in three years and only played an average of five minutes a game (in 25 games) last season. But the Hurricanes have been looking for a tougher presence for awhile now and the club hopes they found it in the 6'4 forward.
Muller had the first three forward lines set as follows:
- Jiri Tlusty, Eric Staal, Alexander Semin
- Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Chad LaRose
- Patrick Dwyer, Jussi Jokinen, Andreas Nodl
In part two of practice, the coach ran power play drills with Skinner joining in with Eric Staal and Semin, while Jokinen worked with Jordan Staal and LaRose. Joe Corvo, Justin Faulk, Joni Pitkanen, and Jamie McBain ran the points.
If you can tell anything from one day of practice, the top line of Semin, Tlusty, and Staal looked very good together. We will have to see how the rest of the lines shake out.
All in all, it was a day of positive energy and there were several smiling faces in the dressing room after practice. Here are a few tidbits and quick quotes:
Joe Corvo is sporting a new Mohawk haircut and has also grown a beard. He is fired up about coming back to Carolina and feels healthy and ready to go.
At the other end of the spectrum, Jeff Skinner's hair is noticeably longer, but Skinner is also ready for the season to start. I asked him if there were any lingering effects from last year's concussion and he assured me there were none. He has worked hard with Gary Roberts again during the off season and feels 100% healthy.
Jordan Staal was surprised at the number of fans attending camp and was impressed. He said it would take him some time to get used to his new linemates, but so far things were going well.
Ryan Murphy has seemingly lived in airports the past month or so. Of course he traveled quite a bit while representing Canada at the recent World Juniors tournament, then said it seemed that as soon as he got home, he was traveling here for camp. Not that he was complaining though. Murphy was paired with Bobby Sanguinetti for much of the first day.
Coach Muller spoke a full 12 minutes to the press. (See the complete video, half way down page one with some other You Tube interviews.) He said he plans to give all the young guys a shot and will most likely mix the lines, but admits he does not have time for too much experimentation.
The remodeled locker room area looks impressive and the players seemed happy with the changes. Corvo certainly was comfortable with his new corner spot. (The goalies are now at the opposite ends of the lockers.)
In the hall way, there are several new photos and posters on the walls and just inside the arena entrance to the locker room, there are framed jerseys of Josef Vasicek and Steve Chaisson, a very nice tribute.
The organization seems to be trying to put on a new face internally, will those changes translate to on ice success? Stay tuned.