Hockey is returning around the league for those teams taking part in the Return-to-Play plan. With Phase 3 starting, training camp has kicked off and players are eager to prepare for postseason hockey.
Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal knows what it takes to be successful in the playoffs and he is ready to help push his team over the edge in his first full year as a solo captain.
He spoke with the media over Zoom following Monday’s practice. Here is some of the highlights of what he had to say.
On if it feels exciting for hockey to return: Everyone here is excited to get going. Just a lot of energy out there. The boys are excited to see each other again and it was good to see them, but it’s back on. We’re back on the ice and we’re going to be fighting for a chance for the Cup. It’s exciting times and you don’t get this opportunity a whole lot.
On if team still has a lot of work to do to get ready: We’re going to want to get our level of play to the highest level we can at practice. It isn’t easy to do just in practice, so we’re going to have to push each other and wrap up as best we can to get to a playoff level. Everyone out there is not quite there yet, including myself, and we’re going to push as best we can.
On if it feels like a new season: It’s got kind of the same feel as a new season. I’m sure we’ll be going over a lot of system stuff and the video and working on all that stuff throughout the practices. Not a lot of games or exhibition games either, so it’s going to feel a little bit like a training camp, but still in the back of your mind you know you’re going to be stepping into a playoff game very quickly. It’s gonna be a little more intense and we’re going to have to keep the level up the best we can these next two weeks.
On how this training camp feels: The only difference from this and normal training camp is there’s no extra players out there. There’s no guys fighting for spots. We already got a team that’s all ready to push each other and that’s ready to go. We got guys that are hopefully going to step into their roles and hopefully understand that we have to push each other to get some wins together and get a streak going.
I think it’s a little different in the regard that we have our guys. We have our group ready to go and we just got to step right into it too. There’s no tip-toeing into exhibition games and hoping to have a good start to the season. We’re definitely going to have some urgency and we’re going to have to have that throughout this week. That’s going to be on the players, that’s going to be on myself and a lot of the guys in this room that they’re ready to go.
On if the team’s playoff experience last year helps: It won’t hurt. Experience always helps. Just understanding the importance of every shift and every play. You could feel that throughout the playoffs. Every time you start to realize that little mistakes, if they add up, can end up in the back of your net and I think the guys started to understand that and realize when to take risks when we needed to and when to be smarter with the puck and just understanding how to win games. I think our team learned a lot last year and we got another group that is hungry for another run and hungry for a cup so hopefully it’s a good recipe for success.
On the sacrifices he has to make in regards to family: It’s... unfortunate. There’s a lot of people hurting throughout this whole pandemic and it’s a sacrifice I’ll have to make. A difficult one. I’m going to miss my boys first steps and his first birthday and stuff like that and stuff I want to be there for. But opportunities like this don’t come often and the guys in that room want it just as much as I do, so I’m here to win. It’s part of the sacrifices we have to make and there’s a ton of other sacrifices that you have to make to win cups and that’s just one of them this year.