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‘Difficult’ season

Frustration is a word Eric Staal is using a lot these days.
Both Jordan Staal (left) and brother Eric, seen playing Friday at Delaney Arena, want to see a deal get done between the NHLPA and NHL owners so the season can begin. (Leith Dunick,

Frustration is a word Eric Staal is using a lot these days.

Though he’s enjoying a rare winter holiday at home in Thunder Bay, the Carolina Hurricanes captain said it’s tough watching the NHL continue to cancel games and the likelihood of a lost season growing more and more probable as time marches rapidly toward 2013.

“It’s been difficult. There’s a lot of ups and downs, roller coaster negotiations where you think it’s close and then it kind of spirals down the other way,” said Staal, who joined younger brother Eric and father Henry on Friday for an old-fashioned game of pick-up hockey with a group of regulars at Delaney Arena.

“It’s just disappointing really, disappointing that we’re in December and both sides can’t come to an agreement and we’re wasting away here.”

Jordan, who was set to join Eric on the Hurricanes this season, isn’t any happier with the way things are going, even after NHL Players Association and league officials met earlier this week in New Jersey in their latest attempt to salvage the season.

“Obviously it feels pretty cold. They’re trying to get together, trying to get another spark to get things going,” he said. “But it seems like both sides don’t want to budge. Hopefully we’ll find some movement and find some more talks.”

For Jordan, the youngest of three Staals playing in the NHL, it’s been even tougher as he tries to adjust to a new team, less than six months after being dealt to Carolina in a draft-day trade by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“It feels like I’m not really a true Hurricane yet. I haven’t gone out on the ice and played in front of the fans and really feel part of that organization. It’s been a very long-awaited arrival and hopefully I can get in front of those fans soon,” Jordan said.

Originally involved in the labour talks, 28-year-old Eric said he’s stepped back a bit, but is still staying in close touch with the negotiations, and isn’t afraid to tell the union how he feels.

“We’re a union of 700 different players. There’s going to be a lot of different opinions, a lot of different guys in different situations. My feelings aren’t going to be the same as an older player’s or even a younger player’s.

“You give your opinion, you give it as much as you can and try to hope that everyone can try to get on the same page and get something done. I’ve been involved. I’ve been trying to stay in the loop as far as how the negotiations are going, because it’s important to me and it’s my hockey career. You only get to do it once.”

Asked about decertification efforts, Eric, wearing an NHLPA jersey, paused and said the whole process has been a disappointment.

“I feel like for me, and a lot of the fans, I don’t really care about who’s winning and who is losing. I just want to get a fair deal done and I think a lot of players feel the same way. There are a lot of different avenues we can go to get there and obviously things are being discussed,” said Eric, who has spent his time at home teaching his three-year-old son how to skate on the city’s outdoor ponds.

“But for me, it’s about trying to get a deal done and get back to doing the things we love to do.”
Jordan is also trying to stay as updated as possible about the situation, as the dispute moves into its fourth month.

“I’m starting to get more involved and I’m trying to get things going and hopefully we can start playing some hockey,” he said.



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