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Tracking the Storm

Yelle Not Afraid to Block Shots

Wednesday, 09.02.2009 / 3:36 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Yelle Not Afraid to Block Shots
The last of the “new Canes” has arrived in Raleigh, as Stephane Yelle made it in time to participate in the Hurricanes’ annual media golf tournament, which pairs players and staff with members of the local media.

Paul Branecky
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(Special thanks due here to Aaron Ward, Kevin McCarthy and Joe Mazur of ABC-11 for putting up with the team’s web guy, who didn’t exactly carry the foursome.)

Ward and Yelle know each other from playing together in Boston last season, with Ward having nothing but positive things to say about the Canes’ newest addition during today’s round. Ward said he expected the team’s already-solid penalty kill to improve greatly, while simultaneously expressing concern about Yelle’s tendency to dive face-first in front of incoming shots – something the Canes’ new checking center didn’t deny.

“Yeah, I’ve done that for a while,” said Yelle with a laugh. “It’s just part of my game, and I enjoy doing it. Sometimes it’s not the smartest thing, but it works.”

Efforts like that should serve to improve a Hurricanes’ penalty killing unit that started slowly last year but ended up being a strength later on, especially in the playoffs. The Bruins entered the playoffs with the league’s fourth-best power play, but went only 2-for-27 against Carolina in the postseason.

“We’ll see what they ask of me, but I’m more than willing to do anything they ask me to do,” said Yelle. “Penalty killing has been part of my game for years, and I think they had a good PK last year, but I’ll try to keep that going this year.”

It’s been part of his game for 13 years, to be exact. In becoming the team’s new leader in playoff games played with 165, he’s missed the playoffs only once, with Calgary in 2002-03. While it was just one year, it wasn’t something he wants to experience again.

“It’s tough to watch the playoffs when you’re not playing or have been eliminated,” he said. “From what I remember from that year, I wasn’t happy about it.”

In addition to his shutdown role, the 35-year-old Yelle also plans to share some of his knowledge with those who haven’t been around quite as long.

“I’m one of the older players, and I think I bring a lot of experience,” he said. “I’ve been around for a long time and I play in a lot of different situations. If I can help out the young guys, I will.”

Like the team’s other new additions, he has to get to know those players first. That began today on the golf course, and will continue at the team’s informal practices leading up to training camp.

Another resource could be what he took home as a third-place winner at the media tournament – a copy of the Hurricanes’ 10th Anniversary DVD.

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