Monday, September 28, 2009

My World Tuesday #50: "It's That Time Again"


"Center Rod Brind'Amour (C)"
Raleigh, NC - September 2007 (Click to embiggen)

Be a virtual tour guide on That's My World Tuesday

In only a few short days my favorite season will kick off for another round. "Fall?", you ask. No, hockey season. Training camp is winding down, the rosters are being finalized, pared down to the limit that the NLH says a team can carry on active status. And around here, that means watching to see if top prospects like Brandon Sutter (yes, of the Sutters) will stay with the Big Club for opening night or be sent to the AHL to keep in shape and gain experience. Sutter may very well find himself in that position, not because he hasn' tacquitted himself well in camp -- he has -- but because the Hurricanes are stacked at the center ice position. Down the middle Carolina features a former All-Star MVP in Eric Staal (yes, of the Staals), a two-time Selke Award winner in their captain Rod Brind'Amour (above), and the most likley suspects for the other two spots on the roster would be Matt Cullen and Stephane Yelle. All four of these guys have their names on the Stanley Cup, three of them with Carolina's 2006 team and the fourth (Yelle) twice with the Colorado Avalanche.

Another off-season priority for GM Jim Rutherford was shoring up a slightly suspect defense corps. Not that the Canes were weak along the blue line, but with Glen Wesley retiring, there was no "veteran leader" stepping up to fill that vaccuum. This, proabbly more than anything, prompted Rutherford to re-acquire former Hurricane Aaron Ward from Boston. Ward was an integral part of Carolina's two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002 and 2006 and is the owner of three Stanley Cup rings, one with the 2006 Hurricanes and two with the 1997-98 and 1998-99 Detroit Red Wings. That kind of experience is irreplacable and Ward -- who kept his home in the Raleigh area even after leaving for the Big Apple via free agency in 2007 -- should fill the void left in the locker room by Wesley's retirement admirably.

In goal, expect Cam Ward to get the kind of workout his boyhood hero Martin Brodeur makes routine. In his last tour of duty with the Hurricanes Coach Paul Maurice rode Arturs Irbe to seasons of 74 and 77 starts in consecutive years. I wouldn't expect Ward to see that kind of work, but if his late season play last year from mid-February on is any indication, he may well be up to the task. Which leaves the question of how ready Michael Leighton will be if called upon to play for an extended period due to an injury. Ward's career has been fairly injury free with only a few relatively minor cuts and strains keeping him out of the lineup for more than a game or two. But I'd feel better about life if Leighton got some work.

Speaking of coaches, after Rutherford shocked the world by bringing Paul Maurice back behind the Carolina bench mid season last year, "Mo" devised a coaching program thta's almost modeled on the NFL. With first-ballot Hall of Famer Ron Francis working the offensive side of the house and another Hall of Famer, Tom Barrasso working the goaltenders, Maurice - always a defense-first style of coach - is free to oversee the "big picture". The system worked well enough last season as the Hurricanes turned the ship around and stormed into the Eastern Conference Final only a few weeks removed form being below the cut line for the playoffs. How well it works over the course of a full season remains to be seen, but the outlook is promising.

And then there's the X-Factor. Or more accurately the "O-Factor". "O" as in "Olympics". In the last two Olympic years (the real Olympics mind you, not those nantsy Summer ones) Carolina has claimed two Eastern Conference titles and a Stanley Cup. Coincidence? Probably. Or maybe the extended break in the schedule for the Olympics does something for these guys that it doesn't do for other teams. Whatever. I'll take it. And a Stanley Cup to go.


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14 comments:

lisaschaos said...

I almost forgot how much you love hockey! Great catch!

Shrinky said...

Oh Gawd, it's all waaaaaaaaaaaaaay above my head. All I know is both my daughters are leading lights in their hockey teams, and yet none of their games involve ice. We may be cousins, but there is more than a pond that divides us (giggle).

Vita Stunder said...

Awesome shot!!!
I'm thrilled for you.

Sylvia K said...

Great shot! Not hard to tell where your attention will be! I think it's terrific!

Enjoy the season!!

Sylvia

Carver said...

Great shot. I'll admit that I don't follow any sport very closely but I do hear tidbids from friends who do.

SandyCarlson said...

I'm glad your season is upon you. Live it well.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Mojo: Congrats on being first in today. Neat post on the hockey team.

Wren said...

I'm impressed you're a hockey fan. It doesn't get as much attention in the south (I'm from Virginia) but up in Michigan it's more important than baseball. Who knew?

Jack and Joann said...

Wren is right. Not much hockey in VA although D.C. has a pro team. I know little about it. Went to one hockey game in my life and that was in Ohio. It looks rough and tough. Do you play?

eileeninmd said...

I hope you have a great hockey season. Your photo is wonderful so crisp and colorful. Thanks for sharing your world.

Island Rambles Blog said...

We are back in the hockey season...yah....cheers.

Marites said...

good capture! have fun! :) my world is up here.

magiceye said...

wow! super action shot!

ladyfi said...

Great action picture - and I love the vibrant colours!