Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs forward J.T. Brown (middle) celebrates a goal during the 2011 Frozen Four semifinals. Nice flow Mr. Faulk. (Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE)

Thursday Thoughts: All in the Family

It’s a beautiful spring day in North Carolina, but just because it’s warm in the Old North State doesn’t mean it’s not time for hockey. It’s always hockey time here at Cardiac Cane! Here are some hockey tidbits to munch on until tomorrow’s game against the Jets.

Get ready to see the mug of Aaron Ward back on Raleigh ice this weekend. (Photo: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE)

Chatting with Mr. Jefferson:

  • Last night sophomore skater Jeff Skinner was Mike Maniscalco’s guest on the Canes Corner radio program. The twitterverse reported the Backyard Bistro was packed with folks anxious to see the cherubic-faced wunderkind. Like with most interviews with athletes, (who are not Ilya Bryzgalov) we didn’t learn anything earth-shattering but Skinner did share some thoughts about recovering from his concussion and returning to play. It turns out his elder brother Ben, a forward at Wilfrid Laurier University, was out with a similar injury at the same time so the brothers had someone to talk to about the recovery process.  Skinner was also asked about his first NHL suspension (2 games) for violating Rule 49 when he kicked Scott Nichol of the St. Louis Blues back on March 15th. I found Skinner’s comments about his suspension to be quite interesting. He said as soon as he skated off the ice he thought the play might get another look. As speculated by most Caniacs, Skinner said the kick to Nichols was instinctive without malicious intent. Skinner asked the video coach to look at the play that evening and suspected he would be contacted by the Department of Player Safety. I was at practice the following day and Jeff showed no signs of being worried about an impending call. To me this is a mark of a young man who knew he did something wrong, was going to have to pay the price but did not lose focus on getting back to work as a professional. While the team was on a road trip without him, you may recall he and Joni Pitkanen practiced together back in Raleigh.

Memory Lane:

  • Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Lightning signed Minnesota-Duluth forward J.T. Brown to a two-year, two-way contract that runs through the 2012-13 season. While this contract may not impact the Hurricanes it may be of interest to a lot of Caniacs! Many of the Wolfpack faithful watched J.T.’s dad Ted play football as a running back at NC State in the late 70’s and later for the Minnesota Vikings. J.T. was a teammate of the Hurricanes’ own Justin Faulk at Minnesota-Duluth in 2011 when the team won their first NCAA Hockey Championship and J.T. was named tournament MVP. J.T. normally sports his dad’s number, 23, but that currently belongs to former Hurricane and wacky ginger, Mike Commodore. I wonder how that will all work out. I sure hope Ted comes to watch J.T. play in Raleigh in one of the tilts against the Lightning. It would make this Pack-backing Caniac very happy to see him again!

Alumni/Fantasy Sunday:

  • Caniacs are eagerly gearing up for the Alumni/Fantasy game on 3pm this Sunday! The game will feature former Hurricanes players as well as those who paid for the experience to play on the squad, hence the “fantasy” portion of the name. The rosters have been announced and can be found on the Hurricanes’ website. I am not sure how they came up with the list of alumni, but when recently asked on Twitter why he wasn’t going to be playing, former Hurricane Jeff O’Neill said he was not invited. Fox Sports Carolina’s Hurricanes’ color man and John Forslund’s sidekick, Tripp Tracy, will be in net and mic’d up for a portion of the game. That ought to be entertaining. A surprise player was announced during the Tuesday broadcast of the Leaf’s game. Eric’s (and Jordan’s, Marc’s and Jared’s) dad Henry Staal will be playing! I am looking forward to seeing the Staal patriarch and the original #12 lace up the skates! The entire Staal family including Henry and his wife Linda are much beloved in Raleigh and it’s always nice to see them around the rink.

Bonus links:

  • The Los Angeles Kings recently featured a wonderful article about Darryl Sutter and his son Chris who has special needs. Chris is the younger brother of Checkers’ captain Brett Sutter who does a lot of charitable work on behalf of the Special Olympics. I encourage you to check out this link to see a softer side of Sutter. (Yes, it sounds like he may actually engage in smiling when outside the arena.)
  • EA Sports is letting fans help pick the next cover man for its NHL 13 video game. How can you help? Well you can mosey on over to their site and vote for Jeff Skinner or Eric Staal! Nervous about a Hurricane experiencing the “cover curse?” They actually have a video on the site that addresses this issue. I am glad they respect the superstitions of crazy hockey fans!

Enjoy this beautiful day wherever you may be Caniacs! Stop by tomorrow to get pumped up for the game against the Jets!

Who are you looking forward to seeing at the alumni game? Aaron Ward? Jesse Boulerice? Tell us in the comments! We are on Facebook at  CardiacCane and we love to chat with other hockey fans on Twitter:@CardiacCaneFS, @Esbee92, @peacelovepuck, @caniac176 and @CaniacCaz.

 

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Tags: 2011 NCAA Frozen Four Aaron Ward Alumni Game Ben Skinner Brett Sutter Canes Corner Charlotte Checkers Chris Sutter Cover Curse Darrl Sutter J.T. Brown Jeff Skinner John Forslund Justin Faulk Mike Maniscalco Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs NC State Football NHL 13 Skinner Suspenion Ted Brown Tripp Tracy

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