The Carolina Hurricanes went on the ice Friday at PNC Arena for their first preseason training camp workouts.
After missing the Stanley Cup playoffs the past eight years, the Canes shouldn’t be lacking urgency or intensity. Offseason moves have been made, bringing in some new faces, creating a buzz. There’s talk of new ownership.
“As a player on this team, it’s exciting,” forward Jeff Skinner says. “It’s exciting for the fans, exciting for the organization. Now it’s up to us to get started and get ready.”
Here are 10 things to know about camp:
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▪ Canes coach Bill Peters will be there on day one this time. A year ago, Peters was an assistant coach for Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, missing training-camp time and later playing catch-up. That won’t be an issue this year.
▪ Cam Ward may not be in the “starter’s” crease once the 59-man roster is trimmed. The north crease at PNC Arena has been Ward’s stomping ground in practice for the past decade. But the coming of Scott Darling, brought in to be the No. 1 goalie, could change that.
▪ Training camp will have a Chicago Blackhawks, circa 2014 and ’15, feel to it. Darling, center Marcus Kruger and defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk were in Blackhawks camp last year. Forwards Teuvo Teravainen and Joakim Nordstrom and defenseman Klas Dahlbeck all played for the ’Hawks.
▪ The four centers, for starters, will be Jordan Staal, Victor Rask, Derek Ryan and Kruger. That’s what Peters says. Team owner Peter Karmanos says the Canes have “four No. 2 centers.”
▪ The lines may quickly take shape, with a lot of eyes on veteran winger Justin Williams. Where does he best slot in? With Staal, adding even more grit to Staal line? Or with Rask, more of a playmaker?
▪ Who’s the sixth defenseman? That’s a question to be answered in camp and former first-round pick Haydn Fleury could be the guy. Then again, don’t overlook Jake Bean, another first-rounder.
▪ Speaking of Bean, he displayed some smooth, confident play in the Traverse City (Mich.) prospects tournament. Can he make the Canes’ roster, or does he go back to junior hockey?
▪ Martin Necas could wind up back in the Czech Republic for another year of pro hockey, but this year’s No. 1 draft pick has a chance in camp to make it a tougher decision for the Canes. He’s fast. He can handle the puck. But is the center ready for the NHL at 18?
▪ After three days on the ice, the Canes will play three exhibition games in three days, the third on Wednesday against Tampa Bay at PNC Arena. That’s pretty intense, even with a 59-man roster, but will allow for a quicker reduction in camp size.
▪ It won’t seem the same without Pete Friesen in camp. Since the Canes moved to North Carolina in 1997, Friesen was the team trainer and strength and conditioning coach until being replaced after last season. Doug Bennett has taken over as head trainer and Bill Burniston as strength coach.