Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Staals lovin' life as teammates

Eric, Jordan flourishing on division-leading Hurricanes

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes knew they had a good thing going with Eric Staal. Captain. All-star. Olympian. Consistent point producer.

So when GM Jimmy Rutherford had the chance to add another player with many of the same qualities and credentials -- heck, the exact same bloodlines -- well, that's as simple as a tap-in goal into an empty net.

The Staals have been together as a brother act in Hurricane colours for just 14 games, but already the draft-day deal that brought Jordan to Carolina from Pittsburgh has brought instant dividends.

The Hurricanes are atop the Southeast Division after missing the playoffs a year ago and the Staals, not surprisingly, are playing major roles. Eric centres the No. 1 line, Jordan the second and the two are first and third in team scoring.

"It's been great," Eric said Thursday. "It's not only just having family on the same team in the NHL, but you dream of playing in the league when you're a kid and now that we're on the same team in large roles is exciting.

"Not only that, he's a very good player. He's won a Stanley Cup. He knows what it takes to win. He's getting more and more comfortable with every game. It's fun to be a part of winning games with him."

Future

Eric, 28, is four years older than Jordan while brother Marc of the New York Rangers is 26. And there could be another Staal in the Hurricanes' future as Jared, 22, is with the Canes minor-league affiliate in Charlotte,

Before his little brother arrived, Eric had only played with Jordan once in their careers as members of Team Canada at the 2007 world championship. And now that he's around him daily, he sees more of the layers of the game that have made him a champion.

The same layers, it could be said, that make Eric so dominant.

"I knew that having him on our team would be a very good asset to have and I'm glad it all worked out, obviously," said Eric. "A lot of the right things needed to happen and it did and now being with him and knowing what kind of game he plays at both ends of the rink, knowing his effort level, his consistency... he's got a lot of character, he competes hard and you see it on a daily basis."

Staal arrived in Carolina after a trade on June 22, 2012 -- the day of the NHL draft and the day he was married. In essence, the Staals were able to celebrate nuptials and Jordan's new hockey address at the same time and surrounded by family.

"It was pretty crazy," said Jordan with a grin. "A lot of emotions all throughout that day but it turned out just to be a great night. For me to get traded then was better than in the middle of the summer... I was able to hang out with the guys after and have that night with them. So that was a lot of fun. It turned out just to be an awesome day.

"Growing up in our family, it was just a dream just to get here. And for us to now be playing with each other is a real special moment for our family. Hopefully they'll be many more games and goals down the road."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2013 C4

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