Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 03/26/08 at 05:10 PM ET
Today, the NHL arranged a teleconference call for the media, speaking with the Staal brothers: Eric of the Carolina Hurricanes, Marc of the New York Rangers and Jordan of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Pittsburgh has already clinched a spot in the playoffs, and Carolina leads their division and the Rangers are sixth in the East. If all three clubs make the playoffs, the brothers would become the first set of three brothers to compete in the post-season since 1992 when and the Brotens (Aaron, Neil and Paul) and the Sutters (Brent, Rich and Ron) all competed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Q. Marc and Jordan, I think you guys faced in each in the OHL Playoffs a few years back. I was wondering for each of you what your most vivid memory of that season was competing against each other, if there were any memorable one-on-one battles?
MARK STAAL: I’ve got one, but I think I already kind of talked about this before. He came through center ice and I caught him, that was pretty good. That’s the only one I remember. I don’t like to remember that series so well, because we didn’t fare so well in that round.
JORDAN STAAL: Yeah, I guess I’ve got one goal, I think, and that obviously stuck out for me. It wasn’t the biggest goal or anything like that, but our team did pretty well in that series, so I guess it was just nice to sweep the brother.
Q. For Eric, I was wondering, are the Hurricanes still motivated at all by any sort of perceived lack of respect for the Division and the fact that I guess earlier in the year if you went by conference standings, the team was near the bottom 8? Are there other, sort of, forces driving you toward the Playoffs?
ERIC STAAL: Yeah, I don’t know if you take that into every game, but maybe deep down in the back of your head you think stuff like that. You know, there’s a lot of great players in our division. It’s very competitive. A lot of the top scorers are in our division, and you know, it’s high offense most nights.
There has been some pretty good teams the last couple of years come out of our division. But right now for us, we’re just focused on getting back into the playoffs, getting back to where we should be and where we expect to be. We’re just focused on this last five games.
Q. This question is for Marc. I’m just curious if the playoffs began today, the Rangers would face the Hurricanes. I’m just wondering how closely you follow that and do you sort of track that, whether or not you might play Eric in the first round or how closely you’re watching that?
MARC STAAL: Right now I’m watching the standings quite a bit. I think it’s hard to think about it now just because it is so tight. Those next five or six games are probably going to be a lot of movement anyways.
But, yeah, obviously, you pay attention. You want to finish as high as you can. So I think that’s ?? I don’t really look at it too much or worry about playing or who we’re going to play right now.
Q. Is there a part of you that sort of anticipating or is excited about the possibility of facing one of your brothers in the first round?
MARC STAAL: Yeah, for sure. I think for me I’m just pretty excited to experience the playoffs in the NHL. Growing up watching it all the time, and now I’d love to get a chance to be in the playoffs. It’s pretty exciting. But, if I go up against one of my brothers, that adds a whole other element to it, so that would be pretty cool as well.
Q. Question for each of you. Jordan, after Eric won the Cup with Carolina, did you and Marc talk about the need to win a Cup as well to keep stride for stride with your brother? What was the talk there?
JORDAN STAAL: I think once Eric won the Cup, personally, I just think if my brother can do it, why can’t I? And I kind of took that in stride and worked really hard in the summer. I came into last year feeling good. Just being a part of the team, the team I have now, and knowing that we can make a push for it.
You know, winning the Cup is the greatest prize a hockey player could ever want. And it’s something I want to be a part of.
Q. What was it like playing on that homemade ice rink? With all these playing, did you try to emulate certain players? Did you play for a certain cup or certain trophy on those ice rinks? What was it like?
MARC STAAL: Yeah, when we were younger, we picked a player that we wanted to be. It usually varied, but most of the time we picked the same guys. I mean, we never really had a trophy to play with, I mean, obviously, we played for the Stanley Cup. A mini series, two out of three or something like that. But it was always a lot of fun. You know, it’s just exactly that, just a lot of fun for us. Growing up, doing that kind of stuff.
Q. Marc, being a defenseman, how come you didn’t follow in the footsteps there and become a forward like your brothers?
MARC STAAL: I don’t know, I think it happened when I was younger, I think it was something like I was 8 or 9, and in order to make the team, I would have to play defense, and then I made the team as a defenseman. And ever since that it stuck with me and then from there I never really switched back.
Q. Eric, can you tell me about Jared and how he’s progressing? And do you feel as though he might be the best of all the Staals?
ERIC STAAL: I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on him. I haven’t seen him play this season just from playing with him in the summer. I haven’t seen him in the Ontario League, but I’ve heard a lot of good things from other people and scouts throughout our organization as well.
You know, just from skating with him over the summer, you can see his development and his confidence, and how much he’s improved over the last couple of years. Sudbury lost Marc and they had a young team this year and they didn’t make the playoffs.
As for himself, personally, he had a pretty good year, and put up some good numbers for a 17?year?old. You know, he’s progressing very well. You know, he’s got a good future ahead of him in this game. And he’s just got to continue to do what he’s doing, working hard and getting stronger, you know. Just taking it year?by?year, and going from there. He’s developing into a pretty good player.
Q. I’m just curious, do you feel as though home ice advantage in the Playoffs is pertinent? I mean, recently it seems as though teams have had success on the road. You look at the Sharks this year and in the playoffs. Do you feel as though home ice advantage is an important part of the playoff process?
ERIC STAAL: I think it’s important, no question. When we ended up winning the championship there two years ago, it was a big part. You have that comfort level, you have the crowd behind you. You know, I think it is as important to try and make sure you get home ice advantage.
We didn’t finish first overall, but we had a couple of teams in front of us lose out, and we ended up having home ice all the way through the whole playoff. I think that’s important, and you want that. You want to have that extra game at home, and, you know, use you’re building to your advantage and your fans to your advantage. I think every team wants that.
Q. Marc, how valuable have your brothers been in your first season in the league?
MARC STAAL: Really good, I think. You know, obviously it’s days when you watch them go through it, and you talk to them during the summer and doing things like that. You know, we stay in pretty close contact throughout the year and make sure we’re checking up on each other.
But it’s always helpful to have somebody that’s been through it, and knows what’s going on. So, yeah, I think they both are a help.
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