The team will not be having on ice practice on Friday and as such won’t have media availability, so Thursday was the Hurricanes’ second-to-last practice before the team departs for the Toronto bubble.
Head coach Rod Brind’Amour again worked on more intense game-scenarios and special teams practice, but with a very notable absence.
Canes defenseman Dougie Hamilton was absent from Thursday’s practice after having left Wednesday’s practice early in visible discomfort.
The team is not allowed to give a comment on Hamilton thanks to the league’s non-disclosure mandate on injuries, but if Hamilton is out of the lineup it will be very bad for Carolina.
Brind’Amour spoke to the media over Zoom following Thursday’s practice.
On Dougie Hamilton being absent from practice: I can’t talk about his injury, so that’s it I guess. He’s unfit to play at this moment.
On Dougie Hamilton’s unique skill set: He’s a talented player and very unique on the offensive side of things. He was certainly missed when he was out for a large portion of the year. He’s a huge part of the offense of our team. We’re hoping that this isn’t something that’s long term.
On having the depth to deal with a potential absence: If you look back at the trade deadline, we weren’t expecting to have [Brett] Pesce or Hamilton in there, so we went out and tried to get the next best things available. Management tried to shore up those holes and now it’s a luxury that we were able to at least do that. We’ll find out how it all works out very shortly.
On Sami Vatanen: I think he’s getting a little more accustomed to how we want to play. What I found is with new players right now, is that the way we play is a little different than they’ve been used to. It really shows on the defensive side for defensemen. I think that’s the biggest area. Unfortunately we have two of those guys, Skjei and Vatanen, who are really having to figure out the system, but they’re such good players that I think once the games get going they’ll be fine. Right now, there’s still some teaching going on, but they’re such good competitors that once the game gets going, the game of hockey is the game of hockey. You got to go play.
On what seems to help bond Finnish players: There’s familiarity. It’s a smaller country and there’s such a huge hockey tradition and they take a lot of pride in that. Those guys stick together. I can’t think of a Finnish guy that I didn’t like. The way they prepare and play. They’re very competitive and that’s what you see in our guys. I think the familiarity and the sense of pride of where they come from, I feel kind of unites them a little bit.
On having Jordan Martinook as a leader on the team: [His lightheartedness and leadership] is part of what he’s about and what makes him a great player. Obviously, he works hard and he’s a great NHL player, but on the backend of that, we spend the majority of our time together off the ice as a group and as a family. You need those leaders. Those guys that take charge and bring everyone together off the ice and that’s what he does. Very, very special player in that regard.
On Seattle revealing its team name (Kraken): Sounds good. I think there were rumblings of that this morning. I don’t think too much about it. I think it’s great, though, that they’re getting going and having hockey out there near Vancouver and maybe getting a little rivalry out there at some point. It’s good.
On sharpening up: I think there was a little lull yesterday. I wasn’t super excited about how everything went. You can see the guys just want to get playing. When they said you’ll have two weeks to prepare, you were kind of like, ‘Oh that’s not enough,’ but now you’re into it and you see the way the guys came in, they were ready to play almost seemed like right away. Now it seems like a lot of practice time. I don’t know if we’ve ever had this much practice time before. Even playing a preseason game or something to break it up a little. So, I think they’re getting a little anxious and they want to get after it.
On if experience will matter due to being an unprecedented situation: I don’t know. I think in a way we’re all rookies at this, and where experience may come in down the line is just keeping yourself level headed. I feel the young guys that don’t have families and don’t have things pulling them away will benefit more. I don’t know how it will all shake out. I think early on it won’t be a factor. If teams, hopefully us, play longer into this then I think all that kind of comes into play.