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Carolina captain Jordan Staal says 'it's karma' that Canes could play the Rangers

Chip Alexander, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) on

Published in Hockey

Jordan Staal once joked about leaving the New York Rangers out of NHL playoff plans if the season resumed.

And now? Staal, captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, had to do a little back-tracking Wednesday in media Zoom call.

Yes, he did tease brother Marc Staal, the veteran Rangers defenseman, during an NHL zoom call two weeks after the NHL suspended the season. Yes, his comments about playing out the season and playoff scenarios were along the lines of "screw the Rangers," who were out of playoff position when the long pause began March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I guess I shouldn't have said that," Staal said, smiling. "That's karma, I guess."

The NHL's return to play plan has 24 teams in the mix. It also has the Canes and Rangers matched up in a best-of-five opening qualifying round, and Jordan Staal is well aware that Marc Staal and the Rangers won all four games they've played against each other this season.

"Yeah, we've texted a few times here and there," Staal said Wednesday. "They're excited obviously about being part of the playoffs. It's a team that struggled with, so it's a great challenge for us, jumping right into it. Hopefully we can do our best to find a way to win that and we'll be feeling good.

 

"It'll be fun. I haven't played against a brother in the playoffs in a while. I know my parents hate it but I think we're going to enjoy it and have some fun with it. But it is what it is. If that's the way we've go to do it, that's hockey."

Staal just wants to play, as do his teammates. His oldest brother, Eric, also will be involved with the Minnesota Wild also involved in a Western Conference qualifying round against the Vancouver Canucks.

That last playoff matchup against a brother, Staal vs. Staal? It was 2009 and Jordan Staal a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins while Eric was the Canes' captain. The Pens swept the Eastern Conference Finals and won the Stanley Cup.

But these are unprecedented times. The pandemic presents an everyday health-and-safety danger, something that must be dealt with in any NHL return to play plan. As NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday, there will be testing and more testing, with the players being kept more or less in a "bubble" once at the playing site.

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