Staal bros. hope Olys are fam­ily af­fair

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - HOCKEY -

CALGARY — One Staal brother is a good bet to be on Canada’s Olympic hockey team next Fe­bru­ary. Two oth­ers are in the run­ning.

Eric, Marc and Jor­dan Staal from Thun­der Bay, Ont., were among the 47 play­ers in­vited to the Olympic ori­en­ta­tion camp in Calgary that ended Wed­nes­day.

“It’s pretty sur­real that you’re look­ing out with this group of play­ers and two of them are your broth­ers,” Marc said.

The sib­lings wore the first ini­tial of their first names along with the Staal sur­name on the back of their camp T-shirts. It’s pos­si­ble three Cana­dian jer­seys will bear their name at the Sochi Olympics in Fe­bru­ary.

“I think it would be pretty spe­cial not only for our fam­ily, but our home­town of Thun­der Bay in gen­eral,” Eric said. “For all three of us to have the op­por­tu­nity, it’s pretty cool and some­thing we’re all striv­ing to do.”

Eric won hockey gold at the 2010 Win­ter Games in Van­cou­ver. Bar­ring any set­backs from a knee in­jury suf­fered at the world cham­pi­onship in May, that ex­pe­ri­ence should give the 28-year-old Carolina Hur­ri­canes cap­tain lever­age to wear the maple leaf again.

Marc is a 26-year-old New York Rangers de­fence­man. Jor­dan, 24, is Eric’s team­mate with the Hur­ri­canes.

A fourth Staal brother, Jared, is a Hur­ri­canes prospect and played on a line with Eric and Jor­dan in a game last sea­son. The 23-year-old for­ward has yet to be­come a full-time NHL player.

For­wards Eric and Jor­dan have the skat­ing and puck skills to ex­cel on the big ice. They were Cana­dian team­mates who won gold at the 2007 world cham­pi­onships and rep­re­sented Canada again this year in Stock­holm.

Jor­dan has penalty-killing prow­ess and a scor­ing touch that makes him a short-handed scor­ing threat.

Marc is a shut-down de­fence­man with a long reach. He won a pair of gold medals at the world ju­nior hockey cham­pi­onships of 2006 and 2007. But of the three broth­ers, his chances of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Win­ter Olympics are murkier. He suf­fered a small tear in his right eye when a puck struck him in the face March 5. Marc missed 27 reg­u­lar-sea­son games and 11 play­off games. The eye won’t be 100 per cent, but he doesn’t be­lieve it will hin­der his re­turn to form.

“It was more of just adapt­ing to the depth per­cep­tion and things like that when I was com­ing back,” Marc said. “It just wasn’t click­ing when I was try­ing to come back in the play­offs there. But with the time off and the train­ing now, ev­ery­thing’s back to nor­mal and I’m feel­ing re­ally good.”

Eric Staal

Marc Staal

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