Posts Tagged ‘Eric Staal’

Martin St. Louis replaces Steven Stamkos on Team Canada for Sochi

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Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Martin St. Louis’s recent play suggests a player who had his eyes on an Olympic roster opening. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

So, Martin St. Louis has been chosen to fill in for Steven Stamkos on Team Canada.

The best choice? I’m not sure about that, but it’s clearly the most popular decision that GM Steve Yzerman and the Canadian brain trust could have made. And certainly the safest.

St. Louis was probably the most surprising snub when the rosters were announced last month. The reigning Art Ross Trophy winner was off to a good start and had such terrific chemistry with Stamkos that it seemed inevitable they’d be drafted in as a duo.

But clearly there was something missing from St. Louis’s game that led to him being passed over in January. It’s been suggested that there were concerns about his defensive commitment and his ability to adapt his game to the big ice. Those worries haven’t gone away during the last month, but his response to the snub — 16 points in 14 games; being held without a point only twice — suggests a player who was highly motivated to prove himself worthy of a second look if a spot opened up.

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  • Published On Feb 06, 2014
  • Ranking the Replacements: Who takes place of Stamkos for Canada in Sochi?

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    Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes

    He’s not the sexiest pick, but Eric Staal makes a lot of sense for Team Canada. (Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It was supposed to be a great day for Steven Stamkos, the day when doctors finally gave him the green light to return to the Lightning this weekend, just in time to secure his role with Team Canada for the Sochi Olympics.

    Instead, the CT scan he underwent on Wednesday revealed that the leg he fractured back on Nov. 11 has not healed as well as initially thought. He can be re-evaluated in another two to three weeks, but that’s too late for him. And too late for Canada.

    For Stamkos, this decision means he now focuses on using the Olympic break to get healthy for Tampa Bay’s playoff drive. But for Canada, it means finding a replacement for the player who was expected to be the focal point of the team’s offense as it aimed to defend its gold medal.

    Let’s get this out of the way right here: No matter the depth of Canada’s talent pool this is an absolutely devastating loss. There’s no replacing what Stamkos would have brought to the table. There is no one who can match his release or his shot or his knack for finding space on the ice. That guy doesn’t exist.

    But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t quality options for Steve Yzerman and his staff to consider. There are the snubs whose omission stunned observers as well as others who have played their way into the mix in the month since the rosters were first announced on Jan. 7. The trick will be to find a player who is willing to accept a role as Canada’s 13th/14th forward, but also is capable of playing on the top line if necessary.

    Here are the players that Team Canada is likely sizing up at this moment.

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  • Published On Feb 05, 2014
  • Mailbag: Readers ask about Steven Stamkos’ comeback, NHL trades

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    Steven Stamkos

    Despite promising progress in his recovery, Steven Stamkos’ status for Sochi remains unknown. (Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    It’s been awhile since we’ve dug through the ol’ mailbag, but with the letters piling up and sports problems to be solved, this seems like as good a time as any to address this matter. Here are a few representative examples of the questions that many of you have been asking:

    I’m really getting worried about Steven Stamkos and his availability for Team Canada. Wasn’t Tuesday night’s game against the Maple Leafs one of the targets for his return to action? If he can’t go, who is his replacement?
    – Rachel Rosenfeld, Mississauga, Ont.

    During the next two weeks, the attention that will be paid to Stamkos and his broken leg will likely make the kerfuffle over royal baby No. 2 pale in comparison. Problem is, his healing rate is in no way commensurate with the number of cameras that are following him, or with the questions he’s being asked. He’ll be ready when he’s ready, but there’s a growing sense that he might not be ready before the Lightning’s final pre-Olympic break game on Feb. 8. And if that’s the case, it puts Team Canada’s brass in a tough spot.

    We’re already near a point where even if his leg is up to the challenge of playing, Stamkos won’t have the strength or the wind to be truly effective playing at the Sochi tournament’s pace. Still, I think there’s a strong desire on Canada’s part to bring him to Russia and push off any decisions until Feb. 11, the last day that a roster change can be made.

    That would be a risky call. Not only would it require flying another player over in order to have a replacement ready (as Canada did in 2010, keeping Jeff Carter on stand-by in case Ryan Getzlaf couldn’t go), but it also sets up a possible repeat of the mistake that Canada made in Turin in ’06, when Chris Pronger played at less than 100 percent … and played poorly.

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  • Published On Jan 30, 2014
  • Top Line: Spezza returns; Sharks, Wings swing momentum their way; more links

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    Sidney Crosby has been unstoppable for the Penguins despite the Sens boasting elite defensemen. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

    Sidney Crosby has been unstoppable for the Penguins despite the Senators boasting an elite defense. (AP)

    By Allan Muir

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • With the series hanging in the balance, the Senators should get a boost from the return of Jason Spezza. Just keep in mind, Sens fans, that the guy hasn’t played in almost four months. Adrenalin might get him through the first game. After that, he might be just a guy with no legs for this pace.

    • The Penguins boast the star power and the experience to take control of this series. But don’t give up on the pesky Sens just yet.

    • No, wait … go ahead and give up.

    • Toronto talked about it, but Pittsburgh made it happen. Awesome.

    • Brendan Smith was the goat in the Game 1 loss to Chicago. Here’s what he did with the goat horns in Game 2.

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  • Published On May 19, 2013
  • Youngest Staal set for NHL debut

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    Jared Staal will make his NHL debut with brothers Jordan and Eric on the Hurricanes.

    Of the four Staal brothers, Jared’s NHL career is most likely to be the shortest. (Dave Reginek/Gettty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Jared Staal hasn’t made much of an impact this season with the AHL Charlotte Checkers, scoring just four goals and seven points in 52 games. In fact, he probably hasn’t done enough to earn a new deal with the Carolina Hurricanes after his three-year entry level contract expires at the end of this season.

    But if that’s the way it plays out, the organization is giving him a pretty sweet parting gift: a chance to make his NHL debut on Thursday night when the ‘Canes host the New York Rangers at PNC Arena.

    No word yet on where the 22-year-old winger will slot into the lineup, but there’s a good chance he’ll see some time with his brothers Eric and Jordan. It’s just too bad his other brother, Rangers’ defenseman Marc, is still recuperating from an eye injury suffered earlier this season and won’t be able to make it a family affair.

    The Hurricanes acquired Jared Staal for a fifth-round pick in 2010 from the Coyotes, who’d drafted him 49th overall two years earlier. Despite good size (6′-4″, 200) and impeccable genes, he’s never been able to make his mark at the pro level, scoring just 18 points in 119 AHL games.

    So why did he get the call?

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  • Published On Apr 24, 2013
  • Sochi on minds of Team Canada’s World Championship hopefuls

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    Claude Giroux and Martin Brodeur

    After a disappointing season, Flyers captain Claude Giroux will jump at a chance to play for Canada at the World Championships, but don’t expect to see Devils warhorse Martin Brodeur in net. (Photo by Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    It’s not Las Vegas that’s on Matt Duchene’s mind as Colorado’s season comes to a disappointing conclusion. It’s Stockholm. Or, more to the point, Sochi.

    The fleet-footed center is ready and willing to extend his season if Team Canada wants him for the upcoming World Championship.

    “Absolutely, I’d play,” he said after the Avs were beaten by the Oilers on Friday night. While many players have begged off from the tournament in the past, Duchene would welcome “another chance to put on the [Canadian] jersey and perform and have all the eyes on you that are making the decision for next season.”

    “Next season,” of course, is code for the 2014 Olympics. Making that squad is clearly on Duchene’s agenda. “[That would be] an absolute dream come true,” he said.

    Duchene, who’s played at the worlds twice before, will be part of a larger-than-usual contingent that’s willing to suit up for Canada next month. Although the late start of the playoffs (April 30) and the early start of the tournament (May 3) mean Hockey Canada won’t be able to count on first-round knockouts to supplement its lineup, it shouldn’t have any trouble icing a stout roster this time around.

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  • Published On Apr 22, 2013
  • Staal brothers see the light, don visors

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    Eric and Jordan Staal

    Eric and Jordan: the eyes have it. (Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    Funny how people’s opinions can change about something when it suddenly affects someone they love.

    Take Senator Rob Portman, for instance. Or a little closer to home, Eric and Jordan Staal.

    It took nearly a month after watching their visorless brother Marc almost lose an eye when he took the full force of a slap shot in the face, but the two Carolina-based Staals finally decided it was time to protect their own futures.

    Eric and Jordan hit the practice ice in Raleigh with a new look Friday morning, according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer.

    Here’s Eric Staal, explaining the decision:

    “It’s been brewing for a little while. At this point I just feel like the risk [of injury] isn’t worth it right now, because of the injuries I’ve seen to other people in this organization, family.

    “Sometimes you feel like you’re invincible, but as many guys have seen, you’re not. Unfortunately, injuries can happen. It’s just being smarter. As we’ve seen in the past when anybody has had an eye injury, they put [a visor] on. So why am I going to wait until that happens to me? Why not put one on now?”

    “I wasn’t like we talked long. We kind of looked at each other like, ‘We’re got to start wearing one,’” Jordan Staal said. “It was just one of those moments like, ‘That’s it.’”

    You watch the replay of the Marc Staal incident and it’s miraculous he didn’t lose an eye.

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  • Published On Mar 22, 2013