Lockout puts a damper on Eric Staal’s birthday

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Today would normally be a festive day for Eric Staal – he turned 28 – but he told Chip Alexander of the Charlotte News & Observer that the lockout killed much of the fun.

“There’s a lot of frustration built up for me, personally,” Staal said.

” … It’s hard to figure out, because it just doesn’t seem like there’s a care for the game. There is from us (players) and from our fans. But on the other side, it doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with it. That’s difficult for us but probably a reality.”

The Staal family just missed out on what would have been a memorable game last Friday, as Eric and Jordan Staal were scheduled to lead the Carolina Hurricanes against Marc Staal and the New York Rangers.

Instead, Jordan played in a charity exhibition game.

Alexander points out that Eric would lose $8.5 million if this season is totally wiped out, but the Hurricanes captain seems just as worried about missing out on a prime year with a revamped roster.

” … It’s years that are important to me and important to our team here,” Staal said. “We’ve got a good group of guys at ages where we should be competing with the elite teams. And now we’re not competing because of a labor dispute. It’s frustrating.”

Also frustrating: skipping a tradition where he often eats a “celebratory cupcake” on a team flight (basically a frosting lockout).