Eric Staal is used to getting a lot of media attention but today a flock of media swarmed into the Canes' room at PNC Arena, quickly veered left and surrounded the guy with "J. Staal' over his locker.
Jordan Staal was the center of the attention today as he prepares to face the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time since he was traded by the Pens. But his older brother said he would be able to handle it -- the media questions, the game, the moment -- well enough.
"It's a big game for our team, obviously, and a little added incentive for himself but we've got to worry about the two points," Eric Staal said. "I'm sure he'll be a little more amped up, but you've got to got to settle in and play your game and your style, which I'm sure he will do after the first one or two shifts."
Jordan Staal, to his credit, didn't try to downplay the significance of the occasion. He was with the Pens for six seasons, winning the 2009 Stanley Cup. Many of the Pens players are close friends.
"It's definitely something I've been looking forward to," Jordan said. "When the calendar came out, it's something you look to see when we play each other first. I've never been in this situation before. I'm just excited about competing against those guys."
While there was disappointment in leaving Pittsburgh, Jordan said the chance to play with his brother in the NHL is a "dream come true." Initially there was talk of Eric and Jordan playing on the same line, but Tuomo Ruutu's hip surgery made Canes coach Kirk Muller's decision easier -- they'd be the centers for the top two lines.
At the Canes' morning skate, there was a familiar face by the glass near the Pens' locker room -- Brandon Sutter. The Pens' decision to trade Jordan Staal to Carolina meant Sutter going to Pittsburgh in the deal, and Sutter will be playing his return game to PNC Arena.
"It's pretty unique and it definitely feels different coming to this side of the rink and the other dressing room," Sutter said after the Pens skate. "I think once we get into the game and get the game going it will be more comfortable. I can worry about playing and not worry about the rest of the stuff.
"It is different. I may have to take a few deep breaths before the game. But once you get playing it should be a little bit easier. I hope once in the game everything kind of smooths out and the emotion kind of takes control of itself and you just worry about playing."
Sutter laughed when asked who might be the one guy on the Canes he might need to keep an eye on -- someone who might want to skate over say "hello" with, say, a big jolt on the ice.
"I don't know. It's hard to say," he said. "I don't know what to expect. It will be fun to get in a little battle out there with them and see how it goes."
Sutter was told that defenseman Tim Gleason, an ornery, physical type, would be back in the lineup for the Canes. Who knows, he might be the guy to welcome Sutter back.
"Oh, yeah, Gleas," he said. "We're pretty good buddies, too. It will be different, it'll be weird. It's definitely weird."