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Walker excited about 'new chapter'

The excitement in Scott Walker's voice was palpable. Tonight, he will be behind the bench for the first time as a head coach, leading the Guelph Storm against the London Knights in an OHL game.

"I'm pretty excited about this new chapter," Walker said today. "Who knows what it will bring. The race is one to see if I'll lose all my hair first or if it goes totally gray.

"I need to see if I enjoy it, to see if I'm any good at it. The one thing I do know is that I love hockey and I want to stay a part of it."

UPDATE: The Storm lost 3-2 in Walker's first game.

Walker happy to see familiar faces

Who does Scott Walker miss the most?

That's easy, Walker says. Everybody.

Walker has been with the Washington Capitals for just two weeks after his trade from the Hurricanes. But his return to the RBC Center for tonight's game had him sounding a bit wistful.

Walker, of course, misses his family, who have stayed in Raleigh. His misses his old teammates and coaches and general manager Jim Rutherford and the Canes' support staff. But Walker also said he misses his neighbors, the parking lot attendant at the RBC Center, the arena security people and the arena workers, and the ... well, you get the

Walker makes emotional departure

RALEIGH — The Canes continued to move players and salary today when they sent forward Scott Walker to the Washington Capitals for a seventh-round draft pick.

It was an emotional departure for Walker, who practiced with the team this morning and helped them beat Toronto 5-1 on Tuesday night. He gave Rod Brind'Amour a heartfelt hug and big handshake before leaving the locker room for the last time.

The veteran will long be remembered for his overtime goal in Game 7 that beat the Boston Bruins last year in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and for his ability to compete and perform during his wife's courageous battle against cervical cancer.

Canes work on winning more battles

There was a positive twist to the Canes' practice Thursday: for the first time since Oct. 3, the entire team was on the ice.

Forward Erik Cole, who suffered a leg fracture in the Boston game Oct. 3, wore a red jersey, went through all the drills and could return to the lineup this weekend, either against Philadelphia or the San Jose Sharks, coach Paul Maurice said. Defenseman Tim Gleason, out the last three games with an upper-body injury, was back in practice and probably will return to the lineup sometime next week.

Forward Tuomo Ruutu will end his three-game suspension and return for Sunday's game with the Sharks.

As for the practice, it was intense, and it should have been with the Canes winless in their last seven games and now 13th in the Eastern Conference.

Walker has positive mindset

Scott Walker has been in the NHL a long time but never had a season quite like last season.

The Canes' veteran forward broke his hand in a fight in a preseason game. He suffered a concussion that knocked him out a big chunk of games in the regular season.

During the Stanley Cup playoffs, it was learned Walker's wife, Julie, had cervical cancer. There was his punchout of Boston Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward, who is now back with the Canes. Then came his emotional Game 7 overtime goal that beat the Bruins.

Given all that, what about this season?

"I feel comfortable that I'm where I need to be," Walker said today after working out at the RecZone. "A great mindset, with all the things that went on in the playoffs last year and with my family. It put a great perspective on life."

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.

Rutherford: Seidenberg, Babchuk out

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said the trade for defenseman Aaron Ward does, indeed, mean that defenseman Dennis Seidenberg it out.

Ward, a member of the Hurricanes’ 2006 Stanley Cup team, will be paired with the Hurricanes’ top-paid defenseman, Joni Pitkanen. Ward and Pitkanen both play big minutes, one reason they’re a good fit, Rutherford said.

“I have a lot of respect for him as a player,” said Rutherford. “He’s a big strong player that can play a lot of minutes. There’s no adjustment for him. He knows the city. He knows the team. He knows the system.”

More from Scott Walker

Two further notes from my conversation with Scott Walker in today’s paper:

1. Scott mentioned to me that a few fans were participating in a charity bike ride to raise money for cancer research in his honor. Turns out it’s Mike “Mo Must Go” Flanagan and his wife Leigh. You can donate here.

2. I asked Scott if he had spoken to Aaron Ward at any point this summer, and he said not since he apologized in the handshake line. (They’ll probably cross paths at the RecZone in August.)

Walker said he didn’t think his family situation played a role in The Punch — even in the best of times, Walker has been known to snap on the ice, notably head-butting Ottawa’s Mike Fisher during a fight in 2007 — but he did acknowledge it’s hard to know for sure.

“I don’t think that had anything to do with what I was going through then,” Walker said. “People say you don’t know how it can affect you, but I just saw Matt Cullen on the ice and Aaron Ward standing there, so I punched him.”

Talking Points: More from Walker

From Talking Points:

In addition to Scott Walker's message to the fans in today's paper, read more about the fans raising money for cancer research in honor of Scott and his wife as well as a postcript to The Punch here.

TP: Hurricanes' house of horrors

From Talking Points

Really, should anyone be surprised the Hurricanes lost not one but two players in Game 1 of this series? It’s rare when they leave the ice at Mellon Arena with everyone intact.

At least three Hurricanes players have left the ice on a stretcher in Pittsburgh since the team moved to North Carolina in 1997, and that doesn’t include Erik Cole, who skated off the ice with a broken neck.

So losing Cole to a knee-to-knee hit by Matt Cooke and Tuomo Ruutu after he was tripped by Mark Eaton on Monday may have been unfortunate but hardly unexpected.

Read more here

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