The Hurricanes will have a very different look for their regular-season finale in Nashville Monday night, as the team will rest a number of lineup regulars: Jordan Staal, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton and Andrei Svechnikov. Defenseman Joey Keane will make his NHL debut.
Keane, Staal (who was also named as Carolina’s nominee for the 2021 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy) and Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media Monday afternoon, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On Jaccob Slavin: We’re hoping it’s just day to day, that’s why obviously we pulled him out of the last game. But he tweaked something and it’s still there, so he couldn’t go tonight. We’re hoping that he’ll be ready to go when we crank up for the playoffs.
On extension rumors: I don’t know where that came from. I think there’s a lot of moving parts here. We’ve had conversations. It’s not just me here we’re dealing with. There’s a bunch of guys we’re trying to get signed. [Tom Dundon] and [Don Waddell] are working at it. I think I’ll be the last one and easiest one to get figured out. But there’s a lot of work going on here for the other group to get signed.
On his goal for tonight’s game: It’s such a tough game, no different than the other night. We want to play the game right, and when you’re in the lineup you’ve got to do it right. I obviously want to see us play the game we have to play to be successful against these guys moving forward. The end result in this game, it’s weird to say, is probably not that important, but the process is to make sure we’re doing it right.
On the other guys sitting out tonight: Unfortunately, we’ve got a lot of banged up guys. So guys that are hurt, they’re hurting. We’re hoping this time between now and the playoffs gets these guys healthy to play, but we’ve got guys that have been playing through a lot of stuff. That’s kind of what’s going on with us right now, we’re a little bit nicked up.
On Joey Keane making his NHL debut: He’s been a great addition to our organization. Great attitude, love the kid and I love to see him have an opportunity tonight.
On Jordan Staal being the Masterton nominee: You can pretty much put any award and his name probably could be around it. It’s just that simple. His value to our group, to the community, his play on the ice, go on and on. So I think it was an easy choice for you guys. I think it kind of goes without saying. He’s everything for us and epitomizes what we’re all about.
On the new divisions and playing the same teams over and over: I think it’s the best that they could do. It’s a great concept. For all the reasons they did it, it made 100% sense. I think we’re almost at the end of it now and it worked out great. It’s not ideal. Nothing was ideal this year. I think it was what had to be done, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing it like this moving forward. I think it sounded good at first, but you’re missing out on so many other great players to play against and watch. I think that’s what makes this league so great is every team has players that you want to watch. But for this year, I thought it was a home run.
On having a winning record against every team: Obviously we won the division, so we had to have been good and it doesn’t really matter you play in the NHL. Every night is just a tough battle, and that’s what I said about this group from day one. I appreciate the efforts they bring. It’s not easy, obviously, but to have that kind of record has to say something about the group.
On what the game of hockey means to him: It’s been my life for the most part. When it’s your job, and it’s kind of all you think about growing up. Obviously to realize your dream and then have to do it day in and day out, work at it and day in and day out and keep getting better. It’s given me a lot. The game has been amazing. The people you meet, the teammates you battle with, the trainers and coaches and everyone that you run through have all been amazing people, and hockey has just been a fun ride.
On the challenges of this year: I think the schedule was pretty tough. There was a lot of games jammed in there. So to make sure that our group was ready for every game was more challenging than most seasons, and I thought we did a really good job of that this year. That’s obviously coming down from Roddy and the coaching staff, and our players in general. I think that’s been the biggest challenge, and the COVID stuff is obviously another thing, just mentally. Having a tough time getting away from the rink or getting away from hockey was difficult. I think it took a little bit of a toll on a lot of guys. Working through that and using each other to get through that was a big thing.
On the match up with the Predators: They’re a good team. They’ve been playing really good hockey lately. Matchup wise, it doesn’t really matter who we were going to play. Anyone that makes the playoffs believes that they can win it. I’m sure they’re no different. We’re going to have to bring our best if we want to win, and the boys are ready.
On Rod Brind’Amour and if he should be a contender for the Jack Adams: I’d vote him in. I think he’s been an unbelievable coach since he started. He’s been through a lot of challenges as well, from all the way up, since he’s been behind the bench. He’s just a very, very good person, a great coach, a great role model and all those things. Not only that, the details of coaching are there as well. He knows how to push guys. He understands the game. He’s played the game. He’s done all the things. He has the respect in the room. He’s got everything, and it showed this year, the way we played as a group for him, and you can tell. It’s pretty obvious. He’s been one of the biggest points of this team turning around.
On Warren Foegele playing his 200th game: That’s good to know, I’m sure the boys will be asking for some money from him. But I think he’s learned a lot in a short period of time already. Obviously longer than I thought, he’s already at 200. And he’s played well. When he’s on, he can be one of the best players on the ice. He skates so well, he’s got some great mitts on him. He’s got good vision and all the tools that you need. I think for me personally, his speed helps me out. He’s great on the forecheck, and I kind of just read off him while he goes barreling in there. He’s a fun player to play with, a very talented player, and I think he’s going to be a good NHLer for a long time.
On having a great season and locking things up early: That was the bar that we set and Roddy set. It’s awesome to be in that situation. It’s not easy to do. I thought we demanded a lot from everybody in that room this year, and the guys have delivered. It’s been a really fun season. We’ve got a really great squad. Anything happens in the playoffs, and the bar that we had is set really high. Right from day one, we were shooting for it. We did a good job, it’s just getting started in the second season here.
On how hard it is to win the Stanley Cup: There’s a lot of tough things about it. It’s a grueling two months, and you’ve got to get a little lucky. You’ve got to stay away from injuries. You’ve got to be at your best every night and I think you’ve got to have the belief that you can do it. I think we have all those things, it’s just a matter of putting it together. Obviously it can happen this year, it’s what we’re shooting for and I think we have the group to do it.
On making his NHL debut in a hard year for everyone: It’s been a tough season for everyone, but I’m very fortunate to be in this position and I’m just going to make the most of it and have fun.
On playing on a team where half the prospects are Canes prospects and half are Predators prospects: Yeah, that’ll be weird. I’ll definitely know a few faces out there, but it’ll be game time and we’ll be friends after.
On if his family is coming to the game: I was fortunate enough that they were able to make the trip, so they’ll be in the building tonight. I’m very excited. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time, I’ve been training for it for a long time, so I’m glad the time has come.