There was a time that Carolina forward Jeff Skinner — now at the ripe ol’ age of 24 — was an emotional, hyper-competitive young buck earning himself a reputation across the NHL.
OK, not really.
But Skinner was suspended once, back in 2012, for kicking then-Blues forward Scott Nichol.
Given the nature of the suspension — look, you just don’t see a lot of kicking infractions — and the fact Skinner had been warned the day prior for slew-footing Dmitry Orlov, there was a bit of history.
And in Carolina, if you’ve got a history with tripping-related offenses, you’re probably going to be asked about Grayson Allen.
Allen, after twice tripping players in ACC games last season and receiving a reprimand from the league, said before this season that he had learned a hard lesson. He said the incidents were embarrassing for him, his family and the school.
Then, it happened again. In a Dec. 22 game in Greensboro, Allen tripped Elon’s Steven Santa Ana as Santa Ana attempted to drive the baseline, kicking out his right leg. [Duke University head coach Mike] Krzyzewski suspended Allen for one game.
Skinner’s suspension in 2012 is his only one. He’s now 24, a veteran player.
“Experience helps because you’ve seen situations and you put yourself in better spots and you’re able to react to situations better,” Skinner said.
Skinner realizes the scrutiny is intense, especially for star players. There’s always that spotlight, especially in the ACC.
“I know one thing, UNC, Duke and N.C. State basketball gets a lot of media attention,” Skinner said. “There’s a lot of pressure on those guys at a young age.”
The genesis of Skinner’s advice was “learn from your mistakes,” and “the more you experience, the better you’ll react to things.” And in that regard, he’s probably a guy worth listening to — he broke into the NHL at 18 and now, even though he’s only 24, is veteran of seven seasons and nearly 500 games played. Discipline hasn’t been much of a problem since the aforementioned Nichol and Orlov incidents.
He has, however, been whistled for two tripping penalties this season. Guess some habits die hard.
Biggest takeaway from all this, though, could be that Skinner’s in the midst of a career campaign. With 35 points through 43 games he’s on pace for a personal high of 65, which would be the most he’s scored since his rookie year.