The Carolina Hurricanes’ season will finish Saturday in Pittsburgh. What began with promise will end in disappointment, with the Canes again missing the Stanley Cup playoffs. That the final game will be played in the Penguins’ Consol Energy Center adds a twist. Canes center Jordan Staal last played in the arena April 20, 2012. His goal and assist helped the Penguins top the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series, although the Flyers eventually won the series. A little more than two months later, Jim Rutherford was in the building. On June 22, 2012, just before the start of the NHL Entry Draft in Consol, the Canes’ president and general manager completed the trade that brought Staal to the Hurricanes. Many believed the acquisition of Staal, a big, strong two-way center, would make the Hurricanes a playoff team this season. Certainly the two principals – Rutherford and Staal – believed so. That perhaps will make Saturday’s game a bittersweet return for both. “It was always a fun place to play, in Pittsburgh, and I have a lot of good memories,” Staal said this week. “It would have been a little better if it meant a little more.” The Penguins lead the NHL’s Eastern Conference and will be the top seed in the playoffs. Center Brandon Sutter, who went to Pittsburgh as part of the Staal trade, has been an integral part of his new team’s success.
For Canes’ Jordan Staal, a bittersweet return to Pittsburgh
Raleigh News & Observer | Apr 27