When the Carolina Hurricanes acquired Jordan Staal from the Pittsburgh Penguins in June 2012, some wondered if the team would ever ice an all Staal line, already having Eric and Jared under contract.
That could happen on Thursday when the Canes take on the New York Rangers.
“With where we’re at in the season, there are going to be different guys that get different looks and chances,” Eric said. “The more [Staals], the merrier.”
Jared, 22 and the youngest of the Staal brothers, is expected to make his NHL debut on Thursday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Staals will be the fourth trio of brothers to play for the same team in the same season in NHL history and the first since 1985.
Though he has returned to practice, Marc, 26, is not healthy enough to dress for the Rangers Thursday night. However, Eric said there are plans for a family gathering tonight where plenty of carbohydrates will be served in advance of tomorrow’s tilt.
“Maybe he’ll dress for warm-up and just kind of skate around so we’re all out there at the same time,” Eric, 28, joked.
Canes head coach Kirk Muller downplayed the idea of icing all three Staals on one line, but he did note that Jared will likely start on Jordan’s wing.
“It will be fun for them,” Muller said.
A second-round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008, Jared joined the Hurricanes organization via trade in May 2010. He has since logged 102 games in three seasons with the Charlotte Checkers, totaling eight goals and seven assists.
“I don’t envy any of my younger brothers, the positions they were put in. I was fortunate to be the first one through everything. There wasn’t a lot of expectation,” Eric said. “Once I established myself, all eyes started pointing to them. Along with that comes pressure. And everyone develops at different stages of their careers.”
Jared, a forward like Eric and Jordan, isn’t necessarily the same player and has worked to carve his own niche in the game.
“He’s a power-type forward. I think he’s kind of found a role down there in the AHL with penalty killing and using his size, so he’s going to get that chance here,” Eric said. “He’s a big strong kid. He’s got a long reach.”
Since Jared joined the organization, Eric has dressed in preseason games with his younger brother. The brothers Staal shared the ice in September during informal skates before the work stoppage.
But, Thursday will mark the first time they’ll each dress for the same team in an NHL game. It’s an exciting moment for the brothers but especially Jared, who will become the sixth player to make his NHL debut for the Canes this season (Bellemore, Terry, Murphy, Jordan, Blanchard).
“You always have those butterflies … for your first NHL game,” Eric said. “For him to get this opportunity, it’s great.”
And don’t forget the brothers’ parents, Henry and Linda, who are expected to be in attendance for what will be a statistically historical and personally memorable event.
“I think it’s pretty special for my parents,” Eric said. “I don’t think they ever would have imagined that having us four boys running around the house like crazy men, and now being all grown up and playing a professional sport for a living and being on the ice surface at the same time. That’s pretty special. There’s no question about that.”
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