Two things were quickly noticeable Thursday when the Carolina Hurricanes began preseason camp at PNC Arena.
Andrei Svechnikov was the first skater on the ice.
Svechnikov was in a yellow, no-contact jersey.
It could stay that way through camp. Svechnikov, an NHL All-Star selection last season, continues to rehab and recover from his ACL injury and then surgery in March.
Svechnikov said there was a “good chance” he will be ready and in the lineup for the Canes’ season opener Oct. 11 against the Ottawa Senators. But he also continues to say “We’ll see.”
“I can’t promise anything,” Svechnikov said. “There is no rush. I’ve got some time here. If I’m ready for game one, I’m going to play.”
Svechnikov did push himself in the skating drills at the end of practice. Many of the players did, even as tiring as that can be on the first day of camp.
With 47 players in camp, two groups took to the ice Thursday. The first group was made up of the regulars, allowing an early look at potential lines and defensive pairs, even if you could almost hear Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour saying, “Don’t read anything into it …
With that in mind, Sebastian Aho was centering Michael Bunting and Seth Jarvis. For Bunting, it was his first practice with his new team after being signed as a free agent in July, after two seasons in Toronto.
“First impression? This team works hard,” Bunting said. “You can tell the culture they built around here is to work hard and push one other every single day. I’ve been looking forward to this.”
Svechnikov was on Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s line with Martin Necas in the first practice Jordan Staal centered Jordan Martinook and Teuvo Teravainen, and Jack Drury was at center with Brendan Lemieux and Jesper Fast or Stefan Noesen.
Jaccob Slavin and Brent Burns were together on D, as were Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce. Dmitry Orlov was with Tony DeAngelo, and Dylan Coghlan and Jalen Chatfield made up a fourth pair.
“For the first day, I thought it was OK,” Brind’Amour said.
Staal’s first NHL training camp was with the Pittsburgh Penguins — in 2006. Seventeen years later, the Canes captain said he still feels the anticipation of putting on the pads and skates and getting started in a new season.
“It’s always that way,” Staal said. “You get the nerves going, even today. It gets you buzzing again. It’s just the aura of starting up again. It’s going around town and talking to fans, and how excited they are about the season. It’s exciting for me”
Staal won at Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009. Now 35, he badly wants another.
“It’s a matter of getting over that hump and staying healthy and putting it all together,” Staal said. “We have a group that can do that — we believe that. That’s always a good feeling starting the season.”
Jarvis was one of the last players off the ice. He’s bigger physically as he enters camp after being both too big and then too small last season.
“Last year this time I came into camp way too heavy,” Jarvis said. “I was a big body. I was like 190 pounds. They said to put on weight and I took it way too far. It was detrimental.
“During the season I lost like 17 pounds and finished at like 173 pounds. Way too light. I really focused in and now I’m about 180 of really good muscle. Lost a lot of fat.”
Jarvis said he “really got ripped” by Brind’Amour and Bill Burniston, the Canes’ head strength and conditioning coach, in the training room at preseason camp last year. He was determined to change that this year.
Jarvis peeled off his T-shirt after practice to show off a new tattoo, then walked through the locker room.
“Look at him showing off,” Burniston quipped.