Monday, October 4, 2010

Hurricanes duke it out with Russians; Staal removed as safety precaution

Carolina Hurricanes' coach Paul Maurice decided to remove captain Eric Staal from the team's exhibition game against SKA St. Petersburg in Russia Monday in the second period as a safety precaution.

Hurricanes' players and coaches were upset by what they believed were deliberate low blows by the Russian team, which defeated Carolina 5-3 in the exhibition game.

"It seemed like they were getting awfully close to his knees and there wasn’t enough concern out there,” Maurice said. “He’s a star NHL player and should be playing in the National Hockey League."

Maurice said he expected a lot of fights and a lot of bs, and that's just what happened.

The players, many of whom have played against Russians in youth and junior hockey, weren't surprised by the rough play but they took exception to the hits to knees.

Staal, who came away with a cut under his eye, said that he received two low hits. “He kind of dove at my knees,” said Staal, who was lifted shortly thereafter. “I’m a big guy, I can take a hit, but when the guy lunges at your knee when you’re going full speed, you can blow an ACL."

Several fights ensued after that as Hurricanes' Jay Harrison and Joni Pitkanen were both tossed from the game.

Maurice said that the team bonded and built chemistry as a result of the game and its altercations.

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