Toronto Star

NHL: Amid trade rumours, Eric Staal would be happy to retire a Hurricane, but isn’t sure he will


RALEIGH, N.C.— Eric Staal would be perfectly happy to finish his career with the Carolina Hurricanes, the only NHL team he’s ever played for.

“I’ve said that,” said Staal. “Obviously anything can happen.”

Staal is 31, the captain of the Hurricanes, the team that drafted him second overall in 2003 and where he won the Stanley Cup in 2006.

But hockey is a business and there’s little room for sentimenta­lity. Staal earns a lot of money — $9.5 million (U.S) this year, the final year of a seven-year, $57.75-million deal. He’ll be an unrestrict­ed free agent this summer.

The strapped-for-cash Hurricanes would probably welcome a trade. It would relieve a financial burden as well as bring a healthy return of prospects from a team looking to bolster its run to the playoffs.

Staal, however, has a no-trade clause. It will be up to him to decide whether he stays in Carolina, a team on the rebuild, or decides it’s time to move on.

“As every day goes by, it gets closer to certain decisions being made,” said Staal. “I’ve been focused on what I have to do at the rink to help this team.

“That kind of stuff will play itself out when we get there. Right now, I haven’t worried about it a lot.”

Staal is the oldest of four in the hockey-playing family from Thunder Bay, Ont., that features Jordan as Eric’s teammate, alternate captain and sometime linemate. Marc is on the blue line for the New York Rangers, while Jared, the youngest, toils in the minors.

Eric’s offence has been on the decline in recent years. He hasn’t been a point-a-game player since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

He went into Friday night’s game against the Maple Leafs with four goals and eight assists in 19 games, sharing the points lead for the team with Justin Faulk.

Staal is in constant contact with GM Ron Francis, talking over everything from day-to-day life to the direction of the team, which has amassed some solid young talent including Faulk, defenceman Noah Hanifin and centre Elias Lindholm.

“Ron’s doing a great job,” said Staal. “We’ve got some great young players. This year has been a bit of a challenge at times early on. Offensivel­y, I felt like we played well at moments. We need results. We need wins. We haven’t had enough of those.

“We have to stick to the process. If we do that, we’ll get some results.”

 ??  ?? Hurricanes captain Eric Staal is in the final year of a seven-year, $57.75-million (U.S.) contract.
Hurricanes captain Eric Staal is in the final year of a seven-year, $57.75-million (U.S.) contract.

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