Jordan Staal was to have played his first home game with the Hurricanes on Friday at PNC Arena against the New York Rangers.
Some home debut, too: Jordan and Eric Staal with the Canes, battling brother Marc Staal and the Rangers.
"I remember looking at that one on the calendar and circling that one," Jordan Staal said today. "That would have been pretty special."
Instead, because of the NHL lockout, Jordan Staal was in Rosemont, Ill., on Friday night. He was on the ice at Allstate Arena, playing in the "Champs for Charity" game with the likes of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Canes teammate Joe Corvo.
"It was fun," Staal said. "There were 12,000 people there and they were excited to watch some hockey. So it was exciting to play, to just get out there and feel a little bit of the game and have some chills and stuff. It was fun."
Also bittersweet. It was hockey but only a tantalizing taste of hockey. It was just enough of a good thing to remind him of what he has been missing.
"Yeah, it was a little bit disappointing, after the game knowing you may not get another one of those for a while," Staal said.
Media reports out of Chicago about the charity game -- which raised more than $300,000 and benefitted Ronald McDonald House charities in the Chicago area -- had the players insisting their resolve remains strong, that they firmly support NHLPA executive director Don Fehr in the labor fight and that the players' solidarity has not wavered.
"The guys were obviously there to do their part in the charity, but it seemed like another day in the lockout and we're still behind each other," Staal said. "But we did try to keep it off-focus a little and have some fun and enjoy the ice."
The NHL has cancelled all games through the end of November and withdrawn its CBA proposal. With Hurricane Sandy hammering the East Coast, there is no way of knowing when labor talks will resume.
What's the next step in the talks? Who makes the next move?
"I don't know that one," Staal said. "For right now we're waiting and hopefully something will spark soon."
Staal, who skated today at Raleigh Center Ice, said he has talked with his agent about going overseas to play, if the lockout drags on and there's no forseeable end in sight. He's begun to explore those options.
"But," he said, "that's still a little ways away yet. We'll see. Right now hopefully it's the last resort."