With the second-overall pick in 2003, the Carolina Hurricanes brought the first of the four Staal brothers, Eric, into an NHL organization. Almost 10 years later, on April 5, 2013, Jared and Jordan Staal would join brother Eric on a forward line for the Hurricanes. While the only meaningful statistics Jared would ever collect were two penalty minutes, 443 goals and 639 assists have been scored between Eric and Jordan. If playoffs are included, the totals jump to 471 and 672, respectively. Two appearances in the Conference Final and a Stanley Cup win aren’t half-bad for the family to have achieved in Raleigh, either. While only Jordan remains with the team today, the great legacy of the Staal family in Carolina will never be in doubt.
Eric Staal’s Early Superstardom
After a 31-point rookie season, Eric spent the 2004-05 NHL lockout with the AHL’s Lowell Lock Monsters. With 77 points in 77 games, expectations for the prospect were high. Following the year in Lowell, 2005’s return to play saw Eric blow even the loftiest of expectations out of the water. The 21-year-old forward tallied 45 goals and 55 assists, the first 100-point season for the Hurricanes franchise since relocation and the only one since. His dominance continued into the Stanley Cup run that year, with 28 points in 25 games.
After the 2005-06 season, the team had to wait until 2008-09 for another playoff appearance. Eric followed his excellent 75-point regular season with a strong 15 points in a run to the Conference Final, including a dramatic game-winner against the New Jersey Devils to give the Hurricanes a Game 7 victory.
Following the playoff run in 2009, the Hurricanes entered a playoff drought lasting an entire decade. Fans in Raleigh often felt like they were alone in their support as the arena emptied and on-ice results fell far short of success. Eric Staal had been named captain following the retirement of Rod Brind’Amour, but despite his talent, the lineup around Eric never materialized into a contender.
In 2016, he was traded to the New York Rangers, truly signifying the Hurricanes commitment to a rebuild. Even though his tenure with Carolina was up, Eric’s trade to New York brought with it an incredibly important second-round-pick. That impactful pick was traded to Chicago in the deal that brought Tuevo Teräväinen to Raleigh, an impact player who nobody sees leaving the Hurricanes anytime soon.
The Veteran Presence of Jordan Staal
At the 2012 NHL Draft, the Hurricanes acquired Jordan from Pittsburgh. Now the longest-tenured player on the team, Jordan was brought alongside his brother Eric in what became a family affair only the Sedin brothers could rival. In one of the duo’s best moments together in Carolina, the Staal brothers teamed up for three goals in the third period to come back against the Columbus Blue Jackets in January 2014.
Down by two goals with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third, Eric Staal caught Sergei Bobrovsky by surprise with a five-hole shot to put the Hurricanes within one. Exactly one minute later, he would chop a puck over Bobrovsky’s shoulder from the slot to tie. The buzzing crowd of around 13,600 felt like a sellout as the Canes came roaring back in a game during which they looked lifeless for 50 minutes.
As the clock ticked down to six minutes, Jordan Staal gathered the puck from teammate Elias Lindholm in the neutral zone. Splitting the Columbus defenders, Jordan shoved a backhand just inside the goalpost to give Carolina a 3-2 lead. Anton Khudobin would hang on at the other end of the ice to secure a miraculous 3-2 victory for Carolina in one of the finest moments the Staal family would have together in Raleigh.
After Eric’s departure, Jordan remained for the rest of Carolina’s decade-long playoff drought. In 2019, when the team finally made it back to the postseason, Jordan was dealing with an injury-marred season. Returning at 100% for the playoffs, however, he scored the tying goal in Game 7 against the Washington Capitals and an overtime game-winner against the New York Islanders in Round 2. In the most recent playoff run, Staal scored another two overtime winners to go along with a furious scoring pace to begin the first round against the Nashville Predators.
The Staals’ Off-Ice Impact
Most well-known for being difference-makers on the ice, the Staal brothers’ contributions to the Raleigh community fly under the radar, but are just as worthy of praise as their achievements in-game. Prior to the 2012-13 season, the NHL lockout was threatening any hockey being played at all. When a return to play was finally settled on, teams from around the league participated in a marketing campaign where stars spoke directly to their fan bases. In Carolina, it was Eric Staal’s full-page advertisement in local newspapers calling fans back to PNC Arena. One year later, when the team unveiled new uniforms, it was also Eric wearing the threads for their first public unveiling.
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Present day, Jordan has carried the torch of being an off-ice leader for the Hurricanes. Earning the “C” after Justin Williams’s retirement, he has lived up to the lofty expectations of leading a team. Called the “ultimate leader” by Sebastian Aho during a post-game press conference this past season, Jordan has become the veteran role-model for developing young talent in the organization during his journey to becoming the longest-tenured player on the Hurricanes.
Eventually, when Eric and Jordan Staal have retired from the NHL, it would be no surprise to see a heartfelt tribute to both from the Hurricanes organization and fans. It wouldn’t be out of the question for numbers 11 and 12 to be considered for the rafters, either.
(All data included was sourced from hockeydb.com or hockey-reference.com. All media was sourced from the THW library, NBCSports.com, or the NHL’s YouTube channel.)