Tag: Kirk Muller

Jeff Skinner

Carolina’s Skinner (lower body) to miss remainder of preseason


Carolina’s Jeff Skinner won’t be seeing any more ice time in the preseason.

Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports Skinner will miss the team’s final two preseason games thanks to a lower body injury. Coach Kirk Muller is trying to play it cool with his young star.

“We just want to be smart and not push him,” Muller said.

Skinner labored through last season with a concussion and his play appeared to suffer after his return from it. Now with this issue popping up late in camp, those in Carolina have to be a bit nervous about how well he’ll start the season. He isn’t alone on the injury list for the Hurricanes though.

Forwards Elias Lindholm, Tuomo Ruutu, and Alexander Semin along with defenseman Tim Gleason are all banged up. That’s potentially three out of their top six forwards and a top-pair defenseman all hurting.

If Carolina is going to compete in the Metropolitan Division they’re going to need everyone at 100 percent. File that under: Duh.

Carolina’s Skinner cool playing center or wing

Jeff Skinner

Carolina’s Jeff Skinner arrived on the scene back in 2010 as a center. He’s also made some noise since then as a winger. So which will he play this season? It doesn’t matter to him.

Skinner spoke with Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer about what his role with the team will be this year and he’s willing to do whatever coach Kirk Muller wants.

“It’s up to them,” Skinner said of the coaching staff. “I don’t have to worry about that, which could be a good thing. They’ll put together the whole thing to everyone’s benefit and the team’s.

“I don’t have any bias as far as playing on this line or at wing. Once the season gets going things will fall into place.”

That’s probably good news considering Eric Staal and Jordan Staal shape up to be their top two centers and playing the skillful Skinner on the third line seems like a waste of time.

If he does wind up on the wing, figuring out if he should play on Eric’s side or Jordan’s would be Muller’s big question.

‘Canes say Eric Staal will be ready for training camp

Eric Staal

Eric Staal is going to be watched closely this season in Carolina, but the team believes he’ll be ready for training camp.

Chip Alexander of the News & Observer hears from GM Jim Rutherford and coach Kirk Muller that Staal’s progress after being injured at World Championships is going well and he’ll be ready to go when camp opens next month.

In case you forgot, Staal suffered a nasty knee injury courtesy of Sweden’s Alex Edler while playing for Team Canada. The hit was bad enough that the IIHF suspended Edler long enough to keep him out of the remainder of Worlds and he’ll miss the first two games of the Olympics in Sochi should he make the Swedish team (he will).

For what it’s worth, Staal has said before he’ll be ready for training camp.

Undrafted Russian invitee impresses at Carolina prospect camp

Sergey Tolchinsky

Carolina had a surprise standout at their prospect camp this week in the form of an undrafted Russian invitee from the OHL.

Forward Sergey Tolchinsky surprised many with his play and as Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports, Hurricanes management certainly took notice.

“He’s probably the biggest surprise or explosive guy this week who made people look at him,” Kirk Muller said. “He didn’t get drafted – let’s be honest, probably people said it was his size. There’s a good example of you look at him, you get to know him, he’s got a great attitude and is a fun-loving guy and he plays hard and he produces.

“He’s a guy that I would say that really made us turn our heads.”

As for his size, that could be an issue. At 5’8″ 164 pounds, he’s not at all big. Then again, sometimes you don’t need to be big to have success in the NHL. Just ask Tampa’s Martin St. Louis or Ottawa’s Cory Conacher about that.

Last year, his first season with the Soo Greyhounds, Tolchinsky showed he’s got game scoring 26 goals with 25 assists. He’ll have time to develop more and impress other teams should Carolina not move to sign him. At the very least, he’s left a great impression for an undrafted player.

(Photo: OHL Images)

If only Hurricanes had more time …

Kirk Muller

To most, 82 regular season games is an awful lot for a sport as rugged as hockey. If you ask Kirk Muller, it’s a shame that at leastthis campaign wasn’t, say, 90-or-so games long.

When the News & Observer’s Luke DeCock asked Muller if the team would be a playoff team if only Muller had time, the coach responded “I do; I really do.” DeCock goes on to make some “What if?” insights and even compares the Muller turnaround to the renaissance the team experienced when it switched to Peter Laviolette during their Stanley Cup run.

The baffling loyalty of Peter Karmanos and Jim Rutherford to Paul Maurice has once again cost them millions of dollars — and cost this market the fun of another trip to the playoffs.

If only Maurice hadn’t been brought back after last season’s colossal failure; if only Muller had been brought in a week or two earlier, when there was still time to turn things around; if only. Alas, the damage was done, and now the Hurricanes are running out of time.

It’s easy to put too much stock into late runs, which all too often fail to carry over to the fall. The Hurricanes are hoping, as was the case in the spring of 2004 and the fall of 2005, after the season lost to the lockout, the tone set in the spring will be the tone taken in training camp.

As noted in this space many times, the similarities between the circumstances that led to winning the Stanley Cup and these circumstances — new coach, new attitude, new labor agreement — have not been lost on the players.

Carolina’s players took about a month or so to adjust to Muller’s message, but they’ve certainly been a more dangerous team once the calendar changed to 2012. The most obvious – and considering the top-heavy nature of the team, probably most important – changes come in the work of Eric Staal and Cam Ward. They went from wildly disappointing (and thus overpaid) to the kind of franchise cornerstones who seem capable of keeping the Hurricanes reasonably competitive from year-to-year.

If you ask the team, their coach and at least one of the local columnists, the Hurricanes now have a coach to be competitive – they’ll just have to wait until next season to prove it.