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Red and Black Hockey

Carolina’s youth movement more like a sea change

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.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, tim+gleason

Comments

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

That’s a team poisted to win it all right there, look how young they are.  Young teams win cups, Wings should learn from them. With the oldest player at 33 and only 4 above 28, they have to be one of the youngest teams in the league.  Success is pretty much garaunteed for the Illitch Empire nemisis.  Personally I dont even see why the East needs playoffs this year.  Wings, the oldest team in the NHL, should be takin’ some notes and learning from what a real winning orginization looks like… young.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 08/27/10 at 12:55 AM ET

David Lee's avatar

Um.  Okay?  Thanks for stopping by.

Posted by David Lee from Greensboro, NC on 08/27/10 at 01:13 AM ET

Leafsfan 4life's avatar

Why does a team have to be young when they are contenders every year? Why should a team be young when they are always old?

I said the Detroit Red Wings are too old five years ago. Somehow Detroit’s front office is able to consistently cycle in and out talented veterans. I talk to lots of leafheads who say the same thing about us. They say Toronto should just get real young talent. The Wings somehow just have a revolving door of veteran players. Im sure in a couple more years they will attract some other veteran talents.

I think the Leafs should just forget about getting young talent. More often than not, teams that try the young talent thing never make it. My new theory is get players who can win now. I get so frustrated always thinking about Toronto’s chances five years from now. While guys like me are thinking five years from now, you have guys like Detroit who are thinking right now.

I hope I didnt confuse you.  It’s just very hard to put together a young group like Chicago that will produce well into the future. I see Dallas as one of those teams who are failing with the young idea.

If you havent noticed, being a leafs fan right now isnt the greatest thing in the world! hahah

Posted by Leafsfan 4life from North America on 08/27/10 at 01:56 AM ET

EDJ's avatar

The problem with trying to follow a detroit-type model is that you first need a really strong core to build around, players like datsyuk and zetterberg, franzen and filppula, and of course the top four on defense. Then detroit brings in veterans to support them. Under burke, the leafs have a good defense to start with and they’ve gotten rid of toskala, but they still need to build their core in the forwards. It’s unlikely those players will come from outside as they are often young and will be signed long term by their respective clubs because of the cap or they will be very expensive. Hopefully they’ll find it in players like kessel and kadri.

Posted by EDJ on 08/27/10 at 03:38 AM ET

landsharkhockey's avatar

Sad to see the post-Cup honey moon era winding down in Carolina.  Sure hope the fans can stomach the rebuilding process.

Posted by landsharkhockey on 08/27/10 at 10:28 AM ET

Leafsfan 4life's avatar

IN Montreal there is a sports journalist. I will try to find you a link for the article in English. This journalist does a huge piece every summer after the draft. He take a in depth look at all thirty teams. He writes down what each teams plan is for the next year, three years and five years.

In his annual article he also rates teams on how well they executed their one year plan, three year plan and five year plan. More often than not you will see a handful of teams who are planning to bring in a group of youngsters and have them develop together.

In his five year examination he shows how they did. The teams who tried to get young talent five years are now trying to get young talent again. Its a constant pattern.

The article really opens your eyes in how hard it is to make a team a contender.

While most of the teams are constantly thinking five years ahead. Veteran teams like Detroit, San Jose and others are competing now.

Posted by Leafsfan 4life from North America on 08/27/10 at 04:43 PM ET

David Lee's avatar

Leafsfan, I’d like to see that article.  I can make do with a French version.

Posted by David Lee from Greensboro, NC on 08/27/10 at 06:41 PM ET

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About Red and Black Hockey

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. 

David has contributed to CBC.ca for their Stanley Cup playoff coverage in 2006 and to the New York Times Slapshot blog for theirs in 2008. Red and Black Hockey was founded in July of 2005.