Tracking the Storm

Yelle Brings Intangibles, Defense

Thursday, 08.20.2009 / 2:19 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Yelle Brings Intangibles, Defense
Although his playing days aren’t yet over, Aaron Ward has nonetheless been active in helping the team’s front office in recent weeks.

Paul Branecky
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Even before Ward was re-acquired by the Hurricanes in exchange for Patrick Eaves and a fourth-round pick on July 24, a former teammate with Boston named Andrew Alberts sought his advice as someone who used to play and still lived in Raleigh. As fate would have it, they became teammates again shortly thereafter.

Then came today’s signing of Stephane Yelle, who played alongside Ward during his lone season with the Bruins last year. This time it was management’s turn to get his opinion, as Carolina General Manager Jim Rutherford sought Ward’s take in the matter after initially showing interest in Yelle a few weeks ago.

Ward didn’t need to call Yelle and convince him to eventually sign with the Canes, as enough information was passed on during the season last year - particularly during the Conference Semifinals series between Boston and Carolina.

”He told me a lot of stories last year about the team and the organization, so I know a little bit about what to expect,” Yelle said from his offseason home in Denver, Colorado, where he prefers the dry mountain air to the humidity of his original habitat east of Montreal.

Yelle is the latest in a recent run on former Bruins, with Sergei Samsonov having also spent significant time in Beantown. Even with the recent playoff series, that trend is apparently coincidental.

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“The Bruins bring in good players, but they also lose good players,” said Rutherford, cracking a smile as he spoke.

Although Yelle spent the first 12 years of his career in the Western Conference with Colorado and Calgary, he became quite familiar with Carolina during that especially intense two-week period in May. Although things didn’t turn out the way he hoped at the time, there won’t be any lingering hard feelings.

”I got to know the team pretty well last year during the seven-game series,” he said. “I remember how the fans were awesome in the playoffs.”

Yelle knows a thing or two about playoff hockey, having appeared in three Stanley Cup Finals, winning two with Colorado – once in his rookie year in 1996 and again in 2001. He was also a part of the Calgary squad that lost in seven games to Tampa Bay in 2004.

All in all, Yelle has appeared in 165 postseason contests, making him the instant leader in the Hurricanes’ clubhouse just ahead of Rod Brind’Amour’s 159. In 13 years, he has missed the playoffs only once, with Calgary in 2003.

“I’ve played a lot of games with a lot of good teams,” he said.

That experience was part of what led Boston to hand him the alternate captaincy for a handful of games last season whenever an incumbent couldn’t play due to injury. For a player in his first season with the team, that’s saying something. He also served as an alternate captain during his time with Calgary.

Despite the intangibles that Yelle will bring to the team’s locker room – namely that experience and winner’s mentality – he should also serve as a key cog for the team’s checking line. He’s an above-average face off man who plays consistently good defense and admittedly “loves to block shots.”

Think about that last point for a second. There’s a definite difference between “willing to block shots” and “loves to block shots.” 

While sanity may or may not be Yelle’s strongest suit, he certainly brings enough to the table to make this a very solid acquisition for the Canes.

Author: Paul Branecky

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72