Staal named captain of Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes are turning to a new leader.
Eric Staal was named captain on Wednesday, taking over the role from veteran forward Rod Brind'Amour.
"The time has come now for Eric to assume the top leadership role for his teammates," GM Jim Rutherford said in a statement.
"This is part of the rebuilding process for the Hurricanes, as Eric is the player around whom the team will be structured. We feel confident in Eric's ability to lead his teammates and are excited to begin this next era."
Staal becomes the team's fifth captain since its move to North Carolina and the 13th in franchise history. He's spent his entire career with the team after being drafted second overall in 2003, and is under contract through 2015-16.
Brind'Amour, 39, has been the team's captain since August 2005 and accepted the Stanley Cup when the team won the championship the following year.
"Rod has been the consummate leader for the Hurricanes since his acquisition nearly 10 years ago," Rutherford said. "He is the only captain in franchise history to lift the Stanley Cup and he will continue to play a leadership role in our organization."
The veteran forward has seen a reduced role this season — he was a healthy scratch for a game in December — and agreed it was time to "pass the torch."
"The timing of it was kind of the question, we all knew that Eric was going to take over at some point," said Brind'Amour, who will be an alternate captain for the remainder of the year. "To me, personally, I thought it was a good time to do it, just to get his feet wet.
"Me kind of handing the torch over to him is really an honour to me because I know what kind of good person he is. We all know what kind of great player he is."
No rah-rah speeches
Staal follows two strong leaders in Brind'Amour and Ron Francis, both of whom took Carolina to a Stanley Cup final. Staal tends to be quite soft-spoken and expects to lead by example.
"I don't think I'm a guy that's going to be standing up giving 'rah-rah' speeches in the dressing room," Staal said. "That's not me and it doesn't necessarily make you a great leader. It's just knowing the right times when something needs to be said and making sure your play on the ice is what guys will follow."
The 25-year-old Staal will be a member of Team Canada at next month's Olympics in Vancouver. There will now be nine team captains on the squad.
Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice firmly believes that Staal belongs in those ranks.
"His experiences here and growing up, he's been bred to be a captain of a hockey team from the time he was playing major junior," Maurice said. "He knows exactly what goes into that. There's no doubt in my mind that he's ready for this.
"At the same time, you cannot fully know what it is to be a captain of team in the National Hockey League until you experience it."
With files from The Associated Press