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As debate rages in Montreal, Muller's glass is "demi" full

In any language, Kirk Muller knew to stay away. Asked about the Francophone Furor in Montreal since the Canadiens fired French-speaking head coach Jacques Martin and appointed English-speaking Randy Cunneyworth their interim coach in his place, Muller spoke delicately.

“I look at it more like, my glass is half full,” Muller said. “Nashville gave me an opportunity to be a head coach in the minors and Carolina gave me this opportunity here. That’s really all I base my things on. I’m loving where I am, I love my situation and I hope (Cunneyworth) does well.”

Aaron Ward announces retirement

Former Canes defenseman Aaron Ward, a veteran of more than 13 NHL seasons and a three-time Stanley Cup winner, announced his retirement from the NHL today through the NHL Players Association.
Ward underwent a third surgery on his knee after last season, and it was recently determined that he would not be ready for the start of the 2010-11 campaign. Ward played for the Canes until being sent to the Anaheim Ducks on the trade deadline.
“I’m very proud to have played for as long as I did in the NHL, with and against the best players in the game,” Ward said in the NHLPA release.

Canes send Aaron Ward to Anaheim

The Canes, in their first transaction on NHL trade deadline day, have agreed on a deal that will send defenseman Aaron Ward to the Anaheim Ducks for goaltender Justin Pogge and a fourth-round draft pick.

"It is tough, no matter the stage of the career you're at," Ward said today. "When you're a young guy you're always nervous about going to a new team. When you're an older guy there's still that level of anxiety going to a new team but there's also a consideration when you have a family.

Trade talk fills both locker rooms

TORONTO -- It started this morning in the Toronto Maple Leafs' locker room, with the biggest media scrums around Alexei Ponikarovsky, Wayne Primeau and Lee Stempniak.

The procession then continued into the Canes' locker room, to defensemen Aaron Ward, Joe Corvo and Andrew Alberts. Winger Ray Whitney might have been included, but he was the first off the ice after the morning skate and well hidden from view when the media rolled into the room.

The questions were the same. How does a player handle being at the center of much trade speculation? What's it like playing under that kind of cloud as the trade deadline nears?

"It may be a poor analogy, but it's like going to the 'chair,'" Ward said. "At your age, it's more or less inevitable when you have veteran players in your locker room that can help another team. It's something that ends up happening."

Canes just after a win, not payback

The Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Canes' playoff run last season and did it in convincing fashion, with a four-game sweep that ended at the RBC Center.

Strange thing, though. The Pens will be back in town tomorrow night and not one of the Canes is talking in terms of payback. It's about the here and now, they say, about winning a game this season and as captain Rod Brind'Amour said today, "Getting back in the right direction."

Coach Paul Maurice said what's done is done. Even if the Canes were to win big, it won't erase the fact the Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup champions and won their matchup last season when it counted most, in the Eastern Conference finals.

"We're aware of how good they are -- we had a first-hand seat for that," Maurice said after today's practice. "We're going to have to play our best to
beat them."

Ward a believer in new 'hat'

Hockey players, like most pro athletes, are creatures of habit, reluctant to change and tend to be superstitious.

To make a change in equipment, they have to be fully convinced "new" also means "better." And that's the case with Canes defenseman Aaron Ward and his new helmet.

Ward now is wearing an M11 helmet. The Messier Project helmet uses a liner system that manufacturer Cascade Sports — in conjunction with Mark Messier — believes significantly lessens the chance of concussions. Much like shock absorbers, the cushions inside the helmet provides lateral displacement to better absorb the impact of the hit.

"It's probably the most comfortable helmet I've ever worn, by far," Ward said today. "Doctors can fix anything in your body but your brain. It's one of the wisest moves I've made in terms of protecting myself."

Canes' grittiness impressed Ward

Aaron Ward had a look at the Hurricanes from the other side in last year's Stanley Cup playoffs.

A defenseman for the Boston Bruins, Ward believed the B's were good enough, strong enough to win the Cup. The Bruins were the top seeds in the Eastern Conference, only to be beaten by the Canes in the conference semifinals.

His impression of the Canes?

"Gritty," Ward said this week. "They were steadfast in the way they played the game. They were very, very smart. We didn't take them lightly."

Monday debate: Blue line renovations (Mk. II)

Exit Anton Babchuk and Dennis Seidenberg. Enter Aaron Ward and Andrew Alberts.

Question: Do the changes on defense leave the Hurricanes better equipped to handle teams like the Penguins?

Fire away.

Canes buy out Kaberle's contract

The Carolina Hurricanes have bought out the remaining year on the contract of defenseman Frantisek Kaberle.

Kaberle, 35, was due to make $2.2 million this coming season. With the buyout, he will collect two-thirds, or about $1.5 million, of that amount over the next two seasons.

"We wanted to change the makeup of our defense, make our defense bigger," said Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford, who notably brought back defenseman Aaron Ward in a trade with the Boston Bruins and picked up Andrew Alberts in free agency.

Rutherford said Kaberle became expendable after the Hurricanes traded for Joe Corvo in February 2008, which "covered up the strengths of [Frank's] game."

Ward happy to be back

RALEIGH — Aaron Ward was on the seventh hole of MacGregor Downs Country Club in Cary, playing with a member of Kid Rock’s band, when his cell phone rang this morning.

The number was familiar, and he didn’t have a good feeling about.

“It was [Boston Bruins general manager] Peter Chiarelli, and I knew it wasn’t good when your general manager calls you in the middle of the summer,” said Ward at a press conference at RBC Center Friday.

The news wasn’t all bad, as disappointing as it was to learn he was no longer with the Bruins. He was coming back to the Carolina Hurricanes, where he helped win a Stanley Cup in 2006 and still lives in the offseason. The Bruins shipped him back for a fourth round pick and forward Patrick Eaves, who they immediately placed on waivers.

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