After the new uniforms were shown off at the PNC Arena on Tuesday, Eric Staal and Jim Rutherford were available for interviews. Here is a bit of what was said.
Staal was limping noticeably while modeling his new jersey so of course was asked about the progress of his rehab.
"It's a slower process than I thought and hoped", he said. The team captain still anticipates skating late July or early August. He also said there is no question that he will be ready for training camp.
Staal said that he liked the new jerseys. "I think they look sharp".
When asked about the hit that injured him, he did not call the play dirty, but said the hit by Alexander Edler was "not clean".
"No, I don't think it's clean hit. I don't know if he intentionally meant it as a dirty hit, but it looks as though that's what it is. Whether his intentions were to injure me on the play, obviously no one likes to think anyone tries to purposely do that. But it was not a clean hit, no."
When pressed further, Staal went on to say that his teammates did not drop their gloves because it was an important game and they would be ejected for fighting, but the team was "upset" over the play.
Jim Rutherford was asked several questions about the arena situation and difficulty about scheduling with NC State. In case you missed it, the officials at State are tying up several dates, (more than what Rutherford deems is necessary) and this is deterring the arena from booking other events, as well as putting the upcoming hockey schedule in a bit of limbo. (The Canes have sent in their requested dates to the league but the official schedule will not be out until July.)
The general manager was non committal when asked who was behind the problem and chuckled when he was asked multiple times, saying he would not comment further.
When asked about the team's free agents, he said that he would probably not offer any contracts until after July 5th, which is when free agents hit the open market. He wants to have flexibility, although he did mention that they may offer Dan Ellis a contract.
Rutherford is on the NHL's Competition Committee, (which was meeting that day), and he was asked about visors. The GM said that he was actually missing the meeting that day because he was discussing important issues with the team's scouting staff , but he felt visors would soon be mandatory in the NHL. (Sure enough, it was announced later in the day that the use of visors would be mandatory starting next season, although grandfathered in.)
The next question was about the draft and again JR said that the team had no interest in trading up, but would be open to the possibility of trading down, if the deal made sense. They still feel that the top five or six players in the draft could be "elite" or franchise type players, so the deal would have to be very sweet and address an immediate team need. The team needs a top four defenseman so he would listen to all offers.
Later in the day in an interview with Edmonton radio's Mark Spector, Rutherford named his top six in the draft as Drouin, Jones, MacKinnon, Barkov, Nichushkin, and Lindholm.
In that interview he was also asked about the success of teams in the playoffs now and Rutherford said that the thing in common seemed to him to be older, veteran defensemen. He said that there were very good defensemen in this draft who might be able to step in and play right away, but can you make the playoffs, (or go deep in the playoffs), with them in the lineup? (Sorry, Darnell Nurse fans).
(Rutherford's interview is later in hour two on June 4rth.)