Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Hurricanes Captain Back in the Post-Season after Long Seven-Year Wait

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Hurricanes Captain Back in the Post-Season after Long Seven-Year Wait

Article excerpt

Staal relishing another chance at post-season

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. - It had been a long wait for Eric Staal.

Nearly seven years, in fact, between playoff appearances for the player who long ago captured the Stanley Cup as a 20-year-old wunderkind for the Carolina Hurricanes. Staal last suited up in the post-season way back in May 2009 prior to his Game 1 appearance with the New York Rangers last Wednesday night.

The 31-year-old said he got goosebumps immediately upon his return, thrilled to once again soak in the energy and atmosphere of post-season hockey. He absorbed the raucous crowd at Consol Energy Center, the intensity that came with each and every moment of his first playoff game in so long.

"Those are moments you want to have every single year," Staal said. "For me it had been a while."

Staal was dealt to New York from the only NHL team he'd ever known in Carolina back in February. He was gaining not only the opportunity to play alongside one of his brothers, in this case Marc, just two years his junior, but another crack at the post-season as well.

It had been some time and Staal certainly missed it.

"It's everything," he said in describing his favourite aspects of playoff hockey. "Every seat's filled and everybody's excited. Every moment matters, not that it doesn't in regular season, but it's a different feeling, it's a different vibe and different energy for everybody in the building and everybody that's watching.

"Those are moments you want to be apart of and you want to play and you want to be out there."

A native of Thunder Bay, Ont., Staal got used to watching playoff hockey from his couch. The Hurricanes missed the post-season in the six seasons that followed the 2009 run to the Eastern Conference final, finally opting to rebuild under general manager Ron Francis in recent years.

That led to the early exit of the long-time captain of the franchise, his contract expiring at season's end. …

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