Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 08/26/10 at 11:12 PM ET
Starting with the trading deadline back in March, the Hurricanes have been undergoing a slow, and steady but very drastic shift to a younger team. That’s pretty well known by now, but for some reason it really struck me today when I was slapped in the face with the reality that 28-year old Chad LaRose will be the fifth oldest player on the opening night roster on October 7.
On Opening day last season, only Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Jussi Jokinen, Joni Pitkanen, Tuomo Ruutu and Tim Gleason were younger than Sharpie, but this fall, he will find himself very much on the other end of the spectrum. Adam Gold and Joe Ovies from 99.9 The Fan had LaRose on the show today and they joked about how he’s getting long in the tooth. The only four players older than #59 are 33-year old Joe Corvo and Sergei Samsonov, Erik Cole and Tom Kostopoulos, all of whom are 31. By contrast, last season’s opening day roster had seven guys older than Corvo.
While the guys from The Fan were teasing LaRose, he’s embracing it. Not just the aspect of being one of the “old guys” but also of being a leader. Nothing has ever come easy for LaRose. He was never drafted in the OHL, he was never drafted in the NHL, he has always been deemed too little to make it. Because of his Brind’Amour-esque work ethic, he’s managed to make it at every level.
Rosie is a fan favorite, and has been from day one. At first, fans loved him because he was a real goofball and because it was easy to tell how excited he was to be making a living in the NHL. As his career has progressed, he’s become the hardest-working guy on the team. In practice, in games, in interviews, at the end of lopsided games, he’s always all-in. He’s early to the rink, he’s as much of a workout fiend as Rod Brind’Amour ever was, and he never takes any of it for granted. This summer, since Rod Brind’Amour has retired and moved into some position in the front office, Chad LaRose has been at the helm of the unofficial workout sessions, which they still call “Camp Brind’Amour”. Coaches and staff are not permitted to be involved in these informal workouts, or Brindy would still be there.
All of this speaks to Sharpie‘s maturity as a player and his leadership abilities. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one of the vacant Alternate Captain positions goes to him. It’s a given that Tim Gleason will wear one of the As, but it’s practically anyone’s guess as to who will wear the other. Some will insist that Brandon Sutter get the other while others will stand behind Tuomo Ruutu. I really like Sutter, and he’ll be a great Hurricanes player for many years, but I don’t think he’s ready for that. Ruutu is also one of my favorites, but I get the impression that he might not want to wear the A.
Others still will hope for Erik Cole to earn the designation. I’m not crazy about that idea. It has some to do with his high likelihood of suffering a broken leg or foot or knee and missing half of the season or more. Also, aside from the first 60 games of the 2005-06 season, I’ve never really thought of him as a “leadership” guy. He’s been leading the drills in Camp Brind’Amour, but I’m still not feeling much worthy of a letter.
I suppose the team will make some sort of announcement about the As some time in the very near future. All I know is that I’ll have to get an A sewn on the front of my Gleason sweater.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.