Since the end of last season, the Carolina Hurricanes have named a new coach and general manager.
Tom Dundon now wants a new third logo to go with it. The Canes owner tweeted this week that he’d like fans to send in suggestions for the logo.
Into all the off-ice swirl have come the players, heading back into town, getting settled, getting in skates at Raleigh Center Ice and preparing for the start of training camp on Sept. 13. Once in PNC Arena, they’ll see something new: an enlarged and renovated weight-room area and players lounge.
Jordan Staal joined the RCI group this week for informal workouts as the center prepares for his seventh season with the Canes, aware the team’s player mix has changed considerably since he left.
“A lot of new faces,” Staal said. “Obviously when things don’t work, things get changed. It will be new, fresh and we’ll be grittier, I think. And with some good players. We’re going to be tough to play against.”
That’s what Rod Brind’Amour wants as a head coach. Dundon wants it.
Fewer are tougher to play against than Staal, one of the biggest and best checking forwards in the NHL. He has that reputation and respect, and former Canes coach Bill Peters named him a co-captain, with defenseman Justin Faulk, last season.
Brind’Amour has said the team would have one captain this year, one player wearing the “C,” and Staal said that’s probably the best way to go.
“That’s your typical setup,” he said. “As I said before, with co-captains, there’s always a group of guys that lead a group.
“For me, it personally doesn’t really matter if I’ve got the C’ or an ‘A’ (alternate captain). I know where I’m at in the room and what I bring to the team. It’s always a little icing on the cake but it’s never been my style. I think the one ‘C’ will work fine.”
Two constants in Staal’s six years with the Canes have been veteran goalie Cam Ward and forward Jeff Skinner, a three-time 30-plus goal scorer.
Ward, after 13 seasons with Carolina, after a Stanley Cup, left in free agency, signing with Chicago. Skinner also is gone, traded to Buffalo after eight seasons.
“Wardo leaving was tough,” Staal said. “He’s a close friend and a face of the franchise for a long time. Everyone loved him in the room and he was a tough guy to see go.
“(Skinner) has been there since day one for me and obviously it’s another big change and a big face who moved on. I think the way it was going, a fresh start for him will be good and I wish him the best.”
The Skinner trade has been mostly panned by NHL media types, with Matt Larkin of The Hockey News recently writing, “No team better embodies the shrug emoji right now.”
The Canes will rely on forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas -- both first-round draft picks, both teenagers -- to provide offense. There’s risk involved, as with any rookies.
“With the young players, you really hope they can step up and bring some more offensive flair to the group,” Staal said. “And with the Finns and the year they had, you hope they can continue to go where they were headed and see them take off to maybe a different status.”
That would be Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. The Finnish forwards combined for 52 goals and 129 points last season, Aho scoring 29 goals in his second NHL season.
Defenseman Dougie Hamilton, obtained in the June trade with Calgary, had 17 goals last season. When the Canes then signed defenseman Calvin de Haan in free agency, it appeared to clear the way for a possible Faulk trade -- a notion general manager Don Waddell has disputed.
With the start of camp two weeks away, Waddell said the Canes’ group is set. There will be seven D-men -- Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Hamilton, de Haan, Faulk, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Haydn Fleury -- competing for spots in the three pairings. Others, including former first-rounder Jake Bean, also want in.
Fleury, 22, is in the final year of his entry level contract and can be assigned to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL without waivers, but Waddell said his contract status won’t work against him. Fleury played 67 games last season.
For Staal, the new season will offer a degree of normalcy. Staal dealt last season with a family tragedy -- an infant daughter, Hannah, had a terminal birth defect -- that he and his wife, Heather, kept private until Hannah’s passing in February.
“Any time those things happen, when it affects you and your family, it’s unbelievably hard to deal with,” Waddell said. “But I think Jordan’s had a good summer working out and is anxious to get back at it,”
The team goal remains a simple one: reach the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2009.
“You always step into a season truly believing you can do great things,” Staal said. “I really do believe it. I’d love to see it, as well. It’s been a long time for myself to get over the hump and I want to be a part of it when it does happen.”