RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) It didn’t take long during Carolina’s first practice of training camp for the Hurricanes to figure out what new coach Bill Peters wants.
The pace was faster than under previous regimes. There was more attention to detail, an almost rigid adherence to a plan.
”He comes in with a presence, a plan and an idea, and that’s what you want,” captain Eric Staal said after Friday’s workout. ”You want to follow someone who shows that confidence and exudes that confidence. He’s done that.”
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Peters was mostly pleased with both of the split practice sessions that marked the opening day of camp, and praised his players’ conditioning.
”I thought we got some things done,” Peters said.
Of course, there’s still plenty to do for Carolina, where the biggest offseason changes came not on the roster but in the front office and behind the bench.
Ron Francis was promoted to general manager in the spring and his first major moves were firing third-year coach Kirk Muller and plucking Peters from Detroit’s staff to replace him.
Forward Jeff Skinner quipped that the new coach ”treats guys like they’re smart, even if they aren’t.”
Added Staal: ”He came in with a plan, an idea and it was very strict and very detailed in what he was trying to accomplish. That was the biggest key, having a plan and being detailed and executing it.”
The Hurricanes know they’ll have to take care of all those little things – and, for that matter, all the big things, too – if they’re going to contend in a tough Metropolitan Division and claim their first playoff berth since 2009.
”It’s been talked about a lot around here, since everyone’s got sort of a fresh start and a clean slate,” Skinner said. ”It’s a new season, I think everybody knows where they stand and it’s exciting to get off to that fresh start.”
Perhaps nobody more than Staal, who is coming off sports hernia surgery after slogging through a season in which he had just 21 goals – his fewest in an 82-game season since he scored 11 as a rookie a decade ago. Almost incomprehensibly, only one of them came on the power play.
”I think every player here is trying to be better than last year,” Staal said. ”I think if everyone elevates, obviously, we’ll all be in better position.”
Peters says he’ll sit down with Staal and the rest of the team’s leadership core ”when the time’s right” to discuss his expectations for them.
”Today’s the first official day of camp. I didn’t want to be all over these guys,” Peters said. ”They don’t need the coach in their face prior to training camp even starting.”
Friday also marked the beginning of the competition in goal between Anton Khudobin and former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward.
Khudobin beat out Ward down the stretch last season, and Ward was the subject of intense trade speculation during the offseason before Francis opted to keep the MVP of the Hurricanes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run and allowed free-agent Justin Peters to sign with Washington.
”The first year or the eighth year, it doesn’t matter,” Khudobin said. ”Competition counts from the first practice. You have to compete with everybody, and you have to just stop pucks.”
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