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Capitals vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Hitting the Road

Wednesday, 10.16.2013 / 2:45 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Hitting the Road
As far as annual State Fair road trips go for the Carolina Hurricanes, this one isn\u2019t that bad at all.
As far as annual State Fair road trips go for the Carolina Hurricanes, this one isn’t that bad at all.

Michael Smith
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The four-game, nine-day roadie – if you can even call it that, considering the team will return to North Carolina in the middle of the trip – begins in Toronto on Thursday against an upstart Maple Leafs club that leads the Atlantic Division at 6-1-0 (12 points).

It will also be defenseman Mike Komisarek’s first trip back to Toronto, where he spent the previous four seasons of his career before being bought out over the summer.

Whether he’s in the lineup or not – he’s only logged a game for the Hurricanes this season – returning to a familiar place as the opposition is always a marked occasion.

“It’s nice to go back and see some former friends and teammates,” Komisarek said.

“Any time you go play some former teammates or an organization, you want to do well,” said head coach Kirk Muller, who can relate both as a player and a coach. “I think he’s mature and experienced enough where, of course he’d like to go in and dress, play and have a good game, but he knows where he’s at right now.

“He’s been great about not playing every night, working and doing the stuff necessary to prepare,” Muller said. “If he gets in tomorrow, he’s going to be excited just to go out, play his game and show that he’s a good, solid, veteran defenseman in the NHL.”

After being the Maple Leafs’ high-profile, $22.5 million signing at the beginning of free agency in 2009, Komisarek played in 158 games over four seasons with Toronto. In the 48-game 2012-13 season, the West Islip, NY, native played just four games with the big club, logging an additional seven with Toronto’s AHL club.

With perhaps inflated expectations and untimely injuries, Komisarek found himself under the microscope. But that’s part of what makes Toronto a special place, for better or worse, in hockey.

“Everyone lives and breathes by how the hockey team is doing. Usually it’s on the front page and back page of the newspaper. It’s all people talk about, and you can’t get away from it anywhere you go,” Komisarek said. People are extremely passionate about how the team does. You come in after the weekend, and you could tell if the team won or lost a couple of games based on how people carry themselves at work on Monday.”

The Hurricanes have a number of players on their roster that hail from Ontario, and Muller, a native on Kingston, Ontario, expects his brother to be around for the game.

“It’s a great hockey town with a great atmosphere,” he said. “I don’t think it gets old, and that’s the fun thing about it.”

For Komisarek, it was time to move on. After 10 seasons in Montreal and Toronto, he sought a change of pace in North Carolina.

“There are a couple nice people at Whole Foods. Friendly ladies behind the counter always say hi and wish us luck,” he said when asked if he gets recognized around Raleigh. “People are always extremely supportive, and you’d be surprised how many Canes jerseys, t-shirts and hats that you see out in public. It’s nice to see, but it’s not the same 24/7, under-the-microscope atmosphere.”

Komisarek’s lone game played this season came on Oct. 11 against Los Angeles, as the team rounded out a back-to-back set. He logged 14:14 of ice time and was credited with two hits.

“I definitely want to contribute any way I can on or off the ice. It (North Carolina) has been awesome for myself and family,” Komisarek said. “You’re itching at the bit to get in there, contribute and get out there with your teammates.”

After the Canes face Toronto on Thursday, they’ll head to Long Island for a Saturday night match-up against a Metropolitan Division opponent in the New York Islanders, who currently sit in third place at 2-2-2 (six points).

The Hurricanes will then come back to Raleigh for four days, enough time to put in a few good practices before hitting the road again for Minnesota and Colorado. A four-game stretch is the longest the Canes will be away from PNC Arena this season.

This is the annual State Fair road trip, but it’s not that bad at all.

“It does break it up,” Muller said. “More importantly, we’ll have the opportunity to get some good practices in again. We’ll get a good assessment of the nine games, get back here and work on stuff that we need to work on. It’s actually a pretty good part of the schedule.”




1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
3 NYI 62 40 20 2 200 173 82
4 TBL 62 37 19 6 203 167 80
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 62 33 19 10 184 156 76
8 BOS 60 29 22 9 158 158 67
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 61 25 27 9 137 161 59
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 59 22 30 7 134 159 51
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43


J. Faulk 59 11 27 -16 38
E. Staal 54 18 18 -9 36
E. Lindholm 58 11 15 -16 26
J. Skinner 54 15 9 -16 24
R. Nash 56 7 14 -9 21
N. Gerbe 55 6 14 -13 20
A. Sekera 57 2 17 -7 19
V. Rask 57 8 10 -18 18
J. McClement 59 4 12 1 16
J. Staal 23 4 11 -1 15
C. Ward 16 19 4 .914 2.35
A. Khudobin 6 11 3 .901 2.73