“Rod has been the consummate leader for the Hurricanes since his acquisition nearly 10 years ago,” said Rutherford. “He is the only captain in franchise history to lift the Stanley Cup, and he will continue to play a leadership role in our organization.
“The time has come now for Eric to assume the top leadership role for his teammates. This is part of the rebuilding process for the Hurricanes, as Eric is the player around whom the team will be structured. We feel confident in Eric’s ability to lead his teammates and are excited to begin this next era.”
Staal, 25, ranks second among Hurricanes with 33 points (10g, 23a) this season, despite missing 10 games with an upper-body injury from Nov. 4-Nov. 23. Since returning from that injury, the Thunder Bay, Ont., native has totaled eight goals and 20 assists (28 points) in 23 games. Prior to missing time this season, Staal had played in 349 consecutive games for Carolina, the longest consecutive games-played streak for the franchise since it relocated to North Carolina. Drafted by the Hurricanes with the second-overall selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Staal has totaled 174 goals and 217 assists (391 points) in 445 career regular-season games with Carolina. He has notched 19 goals and 24 assists (43 points) in 43 career Stanley Cup playoff games for the Hurricanes, helping Carolina capture the Stanley Cup in 2006 and reach the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009.