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2009-07-24 at 10:38

Staals say Olympic camp worth risk

By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch
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Eric, Marc and Jordan Staal intend to join a growing number of NHLers planning to ignore the advice of their players’ union and take to the ice during next month’s Canadian Olympic men’s hockey orientation camp in Calgary.

The brothers, who play for the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers and Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins respectively, on Thursday each said a chance to play for a gold medal outweighs the minimal injury risk they feel they’ll face at the camp.

The union, in a memo issued to players, recommended that invitees skip the on-ice portion of the get together, scheduled for Aug. 24 to 27, warning them of "unwarranted and unnecessary risk" should they choose to skate.

Eric Staal, considered the likeliest of the three siblings to suit up in Vancouver, said he has every intention of being on the ice with his fellow Olympic hopefuls.

"I want to represent my country and play, and if they’re going to have a camp to better prepare us as players, I’m going to be a part of that. Obviously with insurance, sometimes the way it goes, there are precautions the players’ association takes, but for me, I want to be there," said the eldest Staal, preparing to take part in a hockey celebrity golf tournament in support of the Thunder Bay Hospital Foundation.

Eric, who signed a seven-year, $57.75-million extension with the Hurricanes last September, said he knows he’s taking a risk, but hasn’t looked into taking out his own insurance as a precaution.

"I haven’t even thought about that yet or thought of the ramifications if I was to get hurt. I haven’t lived my life or played hockey thinking I’m going to get hurt or seriously injured," said the 24-year-old, who ran his consecutive games played streak to 336 in 2008-09.

Younger brother Jordan, 20, who paraded the Stanley Cup throughout the city on Tuesday, including stops at the Hoito restaurant and Merla Mae’s ice cream parlour, said he too will be front and centre when the Calgary camp rolls around.

Jordan, considered by some experts as a long shot to make the Olympic squad, said he understands why the NHLPA issued its edict, but he doubts it will convince anyone to skip the camp.

"When you get invited to something like that, it’s something special and it’s something that every player is dreaming (of), going to play for that team as well," he said. "It’s something that you don’t pass up on."

An on-again, off-again skater with a group of professional players based in Thunder Bay, Jordan, scheduled to make $3.5 million in the first year of a $16 million extension he signed with Pittsburgh, said the Penguins have been silent on their advice whether he should or shouldn’t go.

"I haven’t heard anything," he said.

Meanwhile Marc Staal, a defenceman with the Rangers and another long shot to make the team, said he’s received a few emails about the subject, but hasn’t really given it much thought until asked for his stance by reporters on Thursday.

"We’re probably obviously going to go," said Marc, who at $826,667 entering the third and final year of his entry-level contract is the lowest paid of the Staal brothers. "I don’t know what the exact details are on that, I haven’t paid too much attention to all of that. Right now I’m just going to wait until before camp and see what happens."

Marc said he knows it will likely be an intense camp with a heated scrimmage or two, but guys won’t be skating around trying to kill each other. It’s not like former teammate Colton Orr, a well-known tough-guy who signed with Toronto in the offseason, will be trying to make a name for himself, Staal said.

"He’s kind of a scary guy and actually keeps you on your toes, so it might not be bad to have him on the ice," he said, smiling.

The Staals are not alone. Fellow Olympic hopefuls Martin Brodeur, Joe Thornton and Rick Nash have each said they plan to skate in Calgary, as have a number of other players.

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We've improved our comment system.
this_is_getting_dumb says:
This whole article is about the Staals and the Olympic camp right? OK..what about Patrick Sharp? He was invited, he's from thunder bay, he was at that golf tournament...and he's definately got a better chance at making the team than Jordan and Marc...Patrick won the MVP and the celebrity baseball game last year(which the stalls were at)...and the MVP at the Kings alumni game this year (which the staals were at)....why are we ignoring Patrick Sharp? Way to go Patrick, MOST of Thunder Bay is Proud of you!

EDITOR's NOTE: Patrick Sharp was not at the tournament or he would have been included in the story.
7/25/2009 12:59:15 PM
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