Hurricanes leadership group offers variety

Team not in a rush to name its next captain

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner scores a goal under pressure from Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein in the second period of Carolina's 3-2 Oct. 28home opener win at PNC Arena.

RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes have been without a captain since Eric Staal was traded on Feb. 28.Rather than name his replacement, GM Ron Francis and coach Bill Peters opted to go with four alternate captains (two permanent, two rotating) as their leadership group. Only Carolina and Toronto are without a captain this season.”We’ve got probably a leadership group that’s at least eight strong,” Peters said priot to the start of the season. “It’s a young group of leaders that are emerging and it’s time for them to take a step and take over.”Both Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk retained their A’s, while Jeff Skinner (home) and Victor Rask (away) each were named alternates. It is the league’s second-youngest leadership group, behind only Edmonton.Carolina’s last three captains have all gone about leading in different ways. Francis (captain from 1999-2004) was a respected player on and off the ice, a three-time Lady Byng winner for gentlemanly play.Current assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour succeeded Francis in 2005 and his leadership style was based on work ethic and intensity.Eric Staal took the reins as captain Jan. 20, 2010, but his tenure ended without him leading the team to the postseason. The next captain of the Carolina Hurricanes will probably come from the four wearing letters this season, and each brings a different style to leadership. Here’s a closer look at them, the way they lead, and a comparable current or past captain.Justin Faulk, defense, 24, sixth NHL seasonHow he leads: Faulk plays in all situations and is measured and consistent, though he can ratchet up the physicality when needed. He’s front and center with media and can be forthright and intense, but also affable.Faulk on the team’s slow start: “If something needs to be said or a voice needs to be a little bit louder in the room, there’s guys that can do and will do that.”Compares to: Former Kings and Sharks captain Rob Blake.Victor Rask, center, 23, third NHL seasonHow he leads: Rask is about as stoic and quiet a person you’ll find in an NHL locker room, but he simply takes care of business. He’s improved each season and was rewarded with a six-year extension this summer.Rask on leadership: “I’m not the guy who talks the most in the locker room, but I kind of want to show it on the ice.”Compares to: Former Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin.Jeff Skinner, left wing, 24, seventh NHL seasonHow he leads: Skinner has grown into a player who inspires on the ice and faces the music off it. Quick with a smile, Skinner is very thoughtful in analyzing the game, has fun on the ice, and has grown into an every-shift player.Skinner on wearing an A: “It’s not going to change the way I play or act. You just try to get better and take on that role as naturally as possible.”Compares to: Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin.Jordan Staal, center, 28, 11th NHL seasonHow he leads: Staal isn’t overly animated on or off the ice, but his value comes in his commitment to an all-zones game. Staal on sharing leadership in the room: “A lot of young guys have had to come and step into a different role, a leadership role, and everyone’s done a great job so far.”Compares to: Former Carolina captain and brother Eric Staal.