RALEIGH — Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said in the preseason the team would, after going without one for the last 20 months, name a captain for the 2017-18 season.
It turned out Carolina named two.
Peters and general manager Ron Francis on Thursday introduced Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk as its co-captains, with Jeff Skinner named the lone alternate captain.
“There’s no question, there’s only a select few players who get to play in the NHL, and then to be honored with the C and to be able to lead a team, there’s definitely no better excitement for myself,” Staal said.
The decision on who would be Carolina’s captain has been a long time coming — and often a thorn in the side of Peters, who bristled at times last season when asked about it. Peters and Francis said they took a thorough approach to making the decision, even if it didn’t end with one player wearing the C.
“I talked to everybody,” Peters said. “I talked to our players. I talked to our medical staff, I talked to our equipment staff — just got opinions from everybody and formulated my own ideas. Talked to Ron, obviously, throughout the process and we came up with what we know is going to work, and we’re confident in the decisions we made.”
Staal and Faulk will alternate the captaincy for home and away games — Staal will start with the C at home, Faulk on the road, then they will switch around midseason. Peters said that’s not a hard-and-fast rule — he said it’s likely Faulk would wear it when visiting his home state of Minnesota, and Staal on trips to Toronto. The player not wearing the C will wear an A with Skinner.
“So those three guys will be the guys wearing the letters, but we have an unbelievable group in the room with unlimited leadership,” Peters said.
Staal will be captain on opening night Saturday when the opponent includes the man he and Faulk succeed, brother Eric Staal who is in second year with the Wild.
“I threw in a text that we had to fill in his hole with two guys instead of one,” Staal said of informing brother Eric. “But he was just very excited for me and Faulker as well.”
All three letter-wearers have been with Carolina through lean times. None have reached the postseason with the Hurricanes, and neither Faulk nor Skinner — drafted together by Carolina in 2010 — have had a taste of the NHL playoffs. Staal reached the postseason in all six of his years in Pittsburgh, including the 2009 Stanley Cup-winning team, but hasn’t yet in six seasons in Raleigh.
“I think with our leadership group it doesn’t have to be a burden for anybody to be a leader on this team,” Peters said. “Now, in my opinion, is the time to name co-captains because our team is in a position to make a push, make a push and fulfill our expectations.”
All four reiterated several times that the team is overflowing with leaders.
“We’ve been saying for all of last year, even the year before when Eric was traded, that we have multiple leaders within the room,” Faulk said.
The leadership-by-committee method, which was in place last year without a captain, will seemingly live on even with the decision to give Faulk and Staal the C. And if the two captains don’t agree on a decision?
“We’ll be on the same page,” Staal said.