57 Million Dollar Smile

The Carolina Hurricanes took a giant step towards being a serious Stanley Cup contender, in years to come, when they recently signed their franchise forward, Eric Staal, to a seven- year extension, worth 57.75 million.

Hurricanes general manager, Jim Rutherford, who drafted the Thunder Bay Ontario native, second overall in 2003, said  that talks with Staal’s representatives went very smoothly. What made things so simple was the fact that Staal, who was named the Hurricanes MVP last season, loves Carolina and wanted something to be worked out before training camp opened. “I am extremely happy to get this done, and he loves it here,” said Rutherford about his 23 year-old star, who has missed only one game in his four NHL seasons; where he has posted 124 goals, 283 points, in only 327 games.

Looking ahead, Staal, who in 2006 registered 19 assists and 28 playoff points, in leading the Canes to their first Stanley Cup triumph in franchise history, believes that his team, which missed the playoffs last season, can come back and compete once again for The Cup.

“For me, at a young age, to be able to win the Stanley Cup was something I dreamed about my whole life,” he said. “I want to do it again.” “There are talented guys in the room and there’s no reason why we can’t get to the playoffs, and be able to win again.”

When this new deal kicks in, starting in 2009/2010, Staal, who had 82 points last season will net 6 million, with his salary rising to a high of 9.5 million in the seventh and final year.

“It’s the people, and the commitment to try and win again,” Staal said for why he wants to stay with the Hurricanes. “I look forward to my next eight seasons and (winning the Stanley Cup) again … hopefully … sooner.”

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