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Gretzky wary of slumping Staal

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Wayne Gretzky didn't wait for the question to end. The Phoenix Coyotes coach obviously was already attuned to the same idea.

Question: When a proven scorer like the Canes' Eric Staal has been in a slump, as an opposing coach coming into a game, does that make you a little ...

"A little nervous?" Gretzky said, finishing the sentence. "Yeah."

Gretzky, with a wry grin, noted the Coyotes helped Columbus Blue Jackets star Rick Nash bust out of his slump last week. Nash scored his first goal in 10 games, albeit in the Coyotes' 5-2 win. Tonight, the Coyotes face Staal, who is without a goal in his last eight games.

"Everybody, and I don't care who you are, you go through stretches in your career where things don't go the way you want it to go," he said. "But as long as you're contributing and working hard, as Nash does in Columbus, like Staal does here at Carolina, you're eventually going to get that goal. And once you get that one, you kind of break through and get going.

"But as a coach, I'll tell you, there are a lot of other little things a guy can do to help his hockey club. And watching Staal play, he does that. He's big, he's strong, he's physical, he wins faceoffs. He does a lot of good things for the team and he's going to get his goals."



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And we all agree that for the NHL you can't have any better rep. than him. I feel sorta bad ( well kinda) as the Phx does have a decent team. And from what I heard via the internet radio feed, if a couple of shots had gone their way, the scoreboard may have read differently. Some call the great one a chump and a dummy for being a coach, and alot of his younger players curently on the coyote bench, don't have the time or experience in the nhl yet, but rest assured, their time will come. And I don't want to be in the area when that happens, because they do have a team that can be a goalie's nightmare. And my wife says Detroit Lions will win the super bowl next year ! Go figure... Go Canes !



Looks like Gretzky was

Looks like Gretzky was right. 2 goals for Staal so far.

Wins Faceoffs?

Wins faceoffs?

Perhaps tonight since the Coyotes are TERRIBLE at them, but every other game... not so much.

Coach's comments

No argument about Gretzky being a great ambassador, but do we honestly think he's watching Staal play that much recently? I'd suspect he's more focused on video of upcoming opponents, and since a viewing of the Montreal game would show him a couple good periods of effort, he can honestly say something like this. I think he also understands the basic characteristic's of "Eric Staal's Game" and was commenting along those lines. The reality is, until the first couple of periods against Montreal, what we came to expect from Eric in terms of an all-around game, was lacking, looking much more like he did at this same time last season...

All together now in the South End "Aw C'mon Staal!!"

I know that all coaches say

I know that all coaches say this kind of stuff, but I also think Gretzky means it about Staal. Gretzky is a great ambassador for this game.

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.