They’re just a couple of guys with hockey equipment and sticks and a desire to play hockey.
That’s how Carolina Hurricanes captains Eric and Jordan Staal walked out of the Raleigh Center Ice rink in Raleigh, N.C. on Friday morning – like any other players do – through the front door.
Both brothers had their bags and sticks in tow while walking through the lobby as a handful of Hurricanes fans caught their attention for a few minutes.
While standing outside the arena, they gave some indication as to what their immediate plans were as the current lockout imposed by National Hockey League (NHL) owners nears the end of its second full week.
No one wins right now
“For me right now, it’s still training and staying ready for when it does start,” Eric said.
“Still doing the same things that we do normally,” he continued.
Around the same time that the Staals and a handful of other players finished their skate, representatives from the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and NHL were preparing to hold meetings in New York to get positive movement in working out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the two sides.
“I’m holding optimism that we continue to meet and try to find some traction, some common ground to get back on the ice,” Eric said.
“No one wins right now – especially the people that pay to watch us play,” he continued.
When posed a similar question while going through his first lockout as a player, Jordan echoed his brother’s thoughts on maintaining a regular routine while waiting for a new season to start.
“It can get frustrating obviously as a player – everybody on the team here wants to play,” Jordan said.
“It’s tough – there’s not been a whole lot of talks going on. Obviously, we’re very excited that they’re meeting today and hopefully throughout the weekend, and to try to get something goin’ and get the season started.”
Staying or going?
As some Hurricanes players like Jussi Jokinen and Anthony Stewart have already taken steps to play in other leagues overseas, the two brothers indicated that they are not going to play elsewhere.
“No, I’m not going anywhere, I’m going to be here,” Eric answered just as quickly as the question was asked.
“Hopefully, they get something worked out soon and I can play for the Hurricanes.”
“I want to play for the Hurricanes,” Jordan said.
“I want to get the season started and this is where I want to be right now.”
To play or not to play?
As the current lockout continues, players must think about not only how to stay in shape and to do so at a high level, but also how to eventually draw some sort of salary, should the lockout result in the loss of a part of the season or all of it entirely.
Factors like agents and family situations will influence a player’s decision to play somewhere else, but that does not mean that everyone will choose to do so.
“Everyone is their own individual,” Eric stated.
“We’re a union together, but right now we’re locked out and if some guys feel they need to play and they need to do certain things for themselves, they’ve been doing that. There’s no pressure from others – you’re your own man as far as what your decisions are.”
Jordan added, “every player wants to get what they need whether that is going overseas, staying here, or doing what they need to do in order to get through this lockout.”
“Every player has his own style and mine is staying here right now.”
With that, both players walked to the parking lot across the street, loaded their equipment into their cars, and continued on with their day.
The wait to play and be part of a new NHL season continues on for them and everyone else in the Triangle.
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