The captain is off to an incredibly slow start for the high standards he sets himself, but why is the big guy off to a slow start?
Jordan Staal is a man of many talents. He is one of the Hurricanes’ more reliable defensive forwards. He is a man the Canes use in overtime solely to win face offs. He is a man who can turn the tides of a game when he’s at his best, yet can be so ineffective when he’s not quite right.
Jordan Staal is the Carolina captain, and for good reason. When Justin Williams announced he was stepping away from the game, it became quite clear that Jordan Staal would become the captain if they elected to name one. He has always been a leader in the locker room, and has been an alternate captain for a few years. He was also an co-captain with Justin Faulk in the 2017-18 season.
Jordan’s appointment to the captaincy seemed vindicated, but what’s gone wrong for the 2009 Stanley Cup champion? For one, his hands are made of stone. While he’s generating chances., he’s just not able to apply the finishing touch. That said, the Thunder Bay, Ontario native is still throwing people into the stands as he skates around them.
What’s starting to slip away is his speed. Staal has never been able to skate past people like some other players can, but Jordan has always had the skating ability to keep up with play and it’s becoming clear his legs are starting to slip away. It may be due to age or perhaps he’s playing with an injury. All we know as fans is, with a cap hit of $6 mil for 3 more years after this one, we hope it stops soon.
Maybe it is due to a reduced role? With Sebastian Aho blossoming into a true 1C, Erik Haula becoming an ideal 2C, and the emergence of Lucas Wallmark, maybe the Canes don’t need to lean so much on the 6’4 220 lbs Canadian?
Potentially it could be down to recurring injuries. Staal missed a lot of time last year with a concussion. Maybe he’s not entirely healthy. We’ve seen Haula play with a nagging knee injury. Is Staal also potentially concealing an injury? Jordan is known to have health issues so it would not be surprising to see that the big center has a few knocks.
Jordan Staal has also found himself sitting in the box a lot this season. Some of this is due to the fact that his skating is starting to clearly slow down, and he’s being forced into taking stick infractions to keep the attackers from just walking in on goaltenders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer.
Staal has recently been subject to some negativity from fans, and I believe this is vindicated. There’s been a lot of talk about taking Staal off the powerplay, which I agree with, and letting him rest a little more during the games. This way he can preserve whatever he has left in the tank for when he needs it most.
No matter what you have thought of the Captain’s start of the season, for the Carolina Hurricanes to get back to their brilliant best that they showed to the world from January until May, Staal needs to be firing.
Staal is a dynamic player when he’s going at his best, and he can shut down anyone when he’s on. If he’s not, he’s a liability. As fans, let’s hope it’s the former we see for the rest of the season more frequently than the latter.