Another excruciatingly long summer is (almost) over. Actual hockey games are on the horizon. Because this is the 265th most widely read hockey blog on the internets, MYFO felt a deep obligation to our dozens of readers to prepare this series of previews telling you about every single team in the NHL. By “prepare” we mean, we found other people to write many of them for us. We were looking for people who (unlike us) might have an actual clue about these teams, but were also eager/willing enough to work for free. Within those constraints, we think we did an admirable job.
Previewing YOUR Carolina Hurricanes, we present “Dave Schultz” from I Mean, We Got Guys…
Well, when your biggest training camp invite is a guy who used to play for the team (and pretty well too), had a couple of DUI’s, was caught pissing in public, and spent last season playing in a beer league then there is the possibility of disaster on the horizon.
Since winning the Cup in 2006, the ‘Canes have been unable to even make the playoffs. It can be blamed on the massive numbers of injuries sustained over the 2 seasons since, it can also be blamed on a defense that was old and had more holes than this snappy little mesh number (for the guys). However, at the trade deadline last season, GM Jim Rutherford brought in Joe Corvo who was an instant boost on the blueline. This summer golden oldie (as in, two years older than God) Glen Wesley retired and the oft-broken (also not getting any younger) Bret Hedican was not re-signed. Additionally, Joni Pitkanen was brought in via trade with Edmonton for Eric Cole. Anton Babchuk and Josef Malichar have returned from playing in Europe. Tim Conboy, Casey Borer, Wade Brookbank, Tim Gleason, and Dennis Seidenberg all saw time with the ‘Canes last season as well (due to injuries). If you thinking “holy shit, that’s a lot of defensemen!” you’re correct. Toss in Nic Wallin and Frantisek “Pee-Wee Herman” Kaberle and you have eleven D on the ‘Canes roster. It’s unlikely Conboy or Borer or Brookbank will see a lot of ice, unless there are more injuries. ‘Canes have been trying to toss Kabby out as trade bait as often as Dion Phaneuf goes for antibiotic refills, but no takers. Since his fantastic season in 2006, he had shoulder surgery and hasn’t quite played the same. Wallin apparently has a no-trade clause which makes Kaberle the one most likely to be moved. Which is too bad, I hear he makes some kick-ass chicken.
The offense has depth and talent, led by “Rod the Bod” and Erik “The Next Captain” Staal. Carolina needed help defensively which meant giving up a forward and Eric Cole was one of the most tradeable. It’s tough to see him go, he’s a gritty power forward who survived a horrific injury and came back to help the team win the cup. He will definitely be missed. Staal and Brind’ Amour are joined by Ray Whitney, Justin Williams, Matt Cullen (if he stops seeing cartoon birdies flying around his noggin ), a rejuvenated Sergei Samsanov, Tuomo Ruutu, Scott Walker, Chad LaRose, and Patrick Eaves. That’s a lot of decent talent. And with the aggressive offensive system employed by Peter Laviolette things are promising for the ‘Canes.
It could all be fucking worthless if the Carolina players all get the dreaded Lazyasfuckitis syndrome that seemed to run through their locker room at varying times last season. As in just after the start of the season and lasted until about a week a day an hour before the playoffs started–and they missed out by the skin of their teeth.
It also rests on the shoulders of a young and inconsistent Cam Ward. And his backup, AHL goalie of the year Michael Leighton. Since winning the Conn Smythe in 2006 Ward has been streaky at best. If he can put together a solid season they’ll be in good shape. But it hasn’t happened yet. Leighton is a capable backup and most certainly an upgrade from John “fucking NASCAR helmet-wearing” Grahame.