Eric Staal was welcomed back to Carolina with a video tribute and an emotional standing ovation during the first period of Thursday’s game between his new team, the New York Rangers, and his former team, the Hurricanes.
Staal, 31, spent 12 seasons with the Hurricanes, winning a Stanley Cup with that franchise in 2005-06, before he was traded to the Rangers in a blockbuster just before the deadline last month. Thursday marked his first game back in Carolina since the deal went down.
“You don’t really know how you’re going to feel until you really experience it,” said Staal prior to Thursday’s game. “I think it’s going to be a lot of unique, different emotions just in general because of being there and being there so long. … It’s going to be a lot different.”