RALEIGH, NC — Parents generally don’t want their kids to be miserable. What makes the final of the Eastern Conference of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs a very stressful time for Henry and Linda Staal.
“It’s hard for them. They’ve been rooting for all of us all year.” florida panthers defending marc staal saying.
“Now one of us is going to be very disappointed at the end of this. Or two of us.”
Marc, 36, and his brother Eric, a 38-year-old forward, are teammates on the Panthers. jordan staal34 years old, is the captain of the carolina hurricaneswho the Panthers face in the conference finals.
“Maybe at best and at worst, here we are”, eric staal saying.
It is the first time since 1992 that the NHL has had three brothers face off in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Back then, it was Brent Sutter from the Chicago Blackhawks against brothers Rich and Ron Sutter of the St Louis Blues.
Now, it’s Staals against Staal.
“It’s a bit surreal, obviously. Playing as long as we have and now we both have a chance to make it to the Stanley Cup final,” Marc Staal said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. I mean, we spent our entire careers playing against each other and then against each other. Now the stakes are a little higher.”
Eric Staal (Carolina, 2006) and Jordan Staal (pittsburgh penguins, 2009) are previous Stanley Cup winners. Marc Staal played for the Cup once, losing to the new york rangers in 2014.
Different combinations of the Staals have met in the playoffs before this season. Marc’s Rangers faced the Jordan Penguins in 2008 and then the Jordan Hurricanes in 2020. When Eric was still with the Hurricanes, his bid for a second Stanley Cup in 2009 ended in the conference final against the Jordan Penguins. Jordan, before Jordan won his first ring in the next round. .
Jordan remembers meeting Eric at the postgame handshake line in 2009, a meeting they will have again 14 years later.
“It’s not easy. It’s never easy to finish a brother’s season, but someone has to win,” Jordan said. “I don’t want to be the one on the other side, so I’ll do whatever I can. It’s part of the hockey playoffs.”
As Marc said, the stakes are now higher for the Staal family. The brothers are nearing the end of their NHL journeys. Eric just completed his 18th regular season and is on his fourth team in three seasons. Marc has just completed his 16th season.
“They told me at the age of 18 [former Hurricane] Ron Francis this is going to go fast,” said Eric. “Enjoy every moment. I remember those words because it really has gone fast. I have witnessed and been through many ups and downs, but the joy of the game has always been burning within me. Sometimes it didn’t always look like that. But I’m where I am at this point for a reason.”
With a lot at stake and a competitive series between the Panthers and Hurricanes, one that already produced a Quadruple Overtime Game 1 — Henry and Linda Staal will not be watching the games in person.
“My mom and dad are very excited but also very cautious,” Jordan said. “I think they will hide from you in the basement until the series is over.”
His brother Jared Staal, a 32-year-old assistant coach with the Florida AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers, is expected to attend the series.
“He’s 100 percent pro-Panthers,” Eric Staal quipped.
And your people?
“I think my parents are for the Panthers, too,” he said. “They just won’t tell you that.”
HENRY STAAL HAD a piece of land near the driveway of his home in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She flooded it one winter so his four children could skate.
They skidded… and skidded… and skidded some more. She couldn’t get them off the ice.
So he expanded that patch of ice into a completely homemade rink. There were reflectors on the sides that illuminated the ice at night. Wire mesh covered the top of the boards in an attempt to keep the pucks inside the track. Unfortunately, as the Staal brothers grew older and stronger, more and more discs flew into their neighbors’ turnips.
The 2-on-2 games the brothers played were energetic, loud, and often brutal.
“We’ve definitely had some stick-flying moments. There were some points and some fighting,” Eric said. “There were some days where Mom had to tell everyone ‘enough’ and send us to our rooms. But after that we always figured it out.”
On the ice, it was Marc and Jordan against Eric and Jared during the brothers’ daily series of 2-on-2 games at their outdoor rink. Off the ice, Marc shared a room with Eric across the hall from Jordan and Jarred.
“We’re competitive in everything we do. It doesn’t matter what,” Marc said. “Play darts, play golf, go fishing, whatever.”
Who manages to lose the worst?
“Probably Eric. He probably takes it worse.”
Eric said those competitive games were the spark that led to this current moment: three established NHL players, fighting for a chance to lift the Stanley Cup.
“Our parents did not make us or force us to do it,” he said. “We just went out there because we loved it and we loved competing with each other and we loved the game itself.”
Over the years, those battles moved from the makeshift rink to the ice of the NHL. The Hurricanes selected Eric second overall in 2003. Marc was selected 12th overall by the Rangers in 2005. Jordan was selected second overall by the Penguins in 2006. Jared he was selected 49th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008. He only appeared in two NHL games. , with Carolina in 2012-13.
Eric, Marc and Jordan have met in the regular season throughout their careers.
“I think once we get into those games, it all blurs and the next thing you know you might be standing in front of your brother and stuff like that,” Jordan said. “It doesn’t really change the way I’m going to do things. I’m sure the same for them.”
Marc said the brothers don’t engage in much trash talk, or any talk at all, on the ice. They just know they are lining up against a familiar face.
“When your brother is on the ice, you know he’s on the ice,” he said. “When you’re fighting in front of the net, you know it’s him in front of the net, you know what I mean? It’s always a lot of fun. This series will be no different.”
But the series is a little different than most matchups. Not just because it’s the conference final, but because it involves Eric, Jordan, and Raleigh, North Carolina.
A HURRICANE FAN held up a sign during Game 1 of the conference finals Thursday night that read: “ALL THE STAALS UNDER ONE ROOF, BUT THIS IS JORDO’S HOME.”
Jordan Staal has played 11 seasons with the Hurricanes, totaling 742 games. He was the team’s co-captain in 2017-18 and has served as their captain from 2019-20 through this season.
“This is a family here for me now,” Jordan said.
There are two other former Hurricanes captains involved in this series. Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour wore the ‘C’ from 2005 to 2010, captaining the franchise’s only Stanley Cup winner. His successor was Eric Staal, who played 909 games with the franchise over 12 seasons.
It was an awkward moment. The Hurricanes were about to go nine seasons without making a playoff appearance. Brind’Amour was playing what would be his last season in the NHL. General manager Jim Rutherford said it was time to hand over the captaincy “to the guy who’s going to lead this team for a number of years.”
Brind’Amour had the opportunity to veto the change of captaincy. he did not do it
“When they made that transition, he just said it was one of those things,” Eric said of Brind’Amour. “That I should just accept it and we’ll get through it together. And we did.”
“Our relationship was very close. Rod is one of those people who really cares about you individually. And for me, as a young man, I was honestly trying to learn as much as I could from a guy like him.”
Eric and Jordan were teammates until the older Staal was traded to the Rangers in 2016, joining Marc in New York, and then signed a free agent deal with the Rangers. wild minnesota the following offseason.
Their photos line the walls of the Hurricanes’ press level. Eric celebrating a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes. Jordan celebrates many years of playoff success, if not a championship, in Raleigh.
“Jordan came here when I was here and we went through a lot together. He earned the right to see the change that happened here and the transformation of where they are,” Eric said. “They’ve had a great season, they’ve had a great run, they’ve played great and he’s a big part of that. I’m proud of him for that.”
Marc and Eric knew there was a real chance they could take on Jordan and the Hurricanes in the playoffs when the Panthers were making their late-season effort. “We could have met them in the first round. And then we were watching them go through the other side [of the bracket]so we knew it was a possibility once we faced Toronto,” said Marc.
On the eve of Game 1, there were some messages between the brothers in his text chain. “We send each other text messages about the parameters of the series. A little bit of how we’re going to do things,” Jordan said.
In the playoffs, players bond more with their teammates, staying together as a group. The Staals established that there would be no fraternization with the enemy during the series.
There were no good luck wishes. The text string has gone silent for the foreseeable future.
“I probably won’t see them much off the court, which is fine with me. No texting on game days,” Jordan said. “All of us are excited to be here and to be a part of this.”
The stakes are high. One or more of Henry and Linda’s children will be emotionally crushed in the near future. But years later, there will be flashbacks to an unusual moment in the NHL sibling rivalry, and a surreal one for three brothers.
“These are things we will never forget. These are memories we will always have,” Jordan said. “We are lucky to be where we are as a family. It’s really cool stuff.
“I haven’t played a playoff series against a brother in a while. We’ll kiss and make up afterward.”