The brothers Staal on Jordan's draft day in 2006. - Getty Images
Jordan Staal turned down big money in Pittsburgh for the chance to join his older brother Eric in Carolina, exemplifying a deep family bond. A bond that Rangers defenseman Marc Staal can't wait to come between.
Jordan Staal wasn't there to hear the crowd. He was a little busy.
On June 22 at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh, Staal was traded from the hometown Penguins to the Carolina Hurricanes, a reunion with his older brother Eric, the longtime captain of the Canes. But when the brothers found out about the trade, they weren't inside Consol Energy Center with the rest of the hockey world.
They were at Jordan's wedding.
Staal had turned down a 10-year offer from the Penguins just days before, and as his future hanged in the balance and Pens fans began to turn on him -- how dare he turn down that kind of money from us! -- the line between family and career had been blurred more than ever before. Admittedly, he was a bit confused, as he told Yahoo! Sports the day after the trade.
"It was a very difficult time, trying to plan a wedding and trying to determine where my career was heading. I did get offered a deal. When I heard about it, I wasn't really comfortable with it yet," said Staal.
"Getting that offer in the middle of the summer and just being unsure about the ice time and my role on this team ... I ultimately wanted to see how the year went and make my decision from there."
Sure, Staal's role on the Penguins played into his decision to turn down such a lucrative offer from the team. He was buried at center behind stars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, and he expressed that he didn't really feel the opportunity to grow beyond his current role as a member of the team.
But the chance to play with Eric was clearly an opportunity that Jordan couldn't pass up.
"We had talked about it a little bit," said Jordan Staal of his brother Eric. "With all my brothers and my parents. It's not too often to have brothers in the NHL. To play along side one was a very special thing. If I did sign that 10-year extension in Pittsburgh, the opportunities to play with Eric would have dwindled a lot."
Whenever the NHL lockout ends, Jordan and Eric will be together for the foreseeable future. That 10-year deal offered to Jordan by the Penguins may have been turned down, but a similar 10-year post-trade offer from the Hurricanes will keep Jordan in Raleigh until 2023. Eric, meanwhile, is locked down by the Canes through 2016.
The brothers will get to play side-by-side through the prime of their careers -- Eric is 28, Jordan is 24 -- and they'll get to do it on a Carolina team that has a chance to make some noise. General manager Jim Rutherford has overseen a mediocre bunch over the last few seasons, but a solid farm system and a summer spending spree that brought in Jordan and former Capitals star Alexander Semin has the club set up well for the future around their Staalsy core.
The youngest Staal, 22-year-old Jared, was traded to the Hurricanes organization in May 2010. Jared, originally a second-round draft choice by the Phoenix Coyotes, is definitely not as talented as his older brothers, but the hope is that the influence of his brothers in the organization will help him realize his potential as a physical NHL power forward.
While a trio of Staals hope to bring North Carolina another Stanley Cup, middle brother Marc is on the precipice of doing the same in Manhattan. At age 25, Marc Staal has positioned himself as an indispensable piece on John Tortorella's blue line. He's a threat at both ends of the ice for the New York Rangers as he's grown into more of a two-way role in each of his five years in the league.
The brothers have shown in the past that they're not afraid to be physical with one another when on opposing sides. Marc has had run-ins with both Jordan and Eric in the past, and a nasty hit from Eric in Feb. 2011 forced a concussed Marc out of the lineup for the first half of the 2011-12 season.
Via ESPN.com, here's Jordan talking about the hit last October:
"Obviously I feel bad for both my brothers. It's not a great situation, but again, it happens in the games. Hopefully, it will be over soon enough. We haven't really talked about it a whole lot. It's unfortunate that it was Eric who ended up taking out Marc, but it's part of the game. ... It's not easy, but our family's going to help support him as much as we can."
Marc's back on the ice now, having made his triumphant return for the Rangers in January's Winter Classic, to the obvious joy of his entire family. Now, however, the rivalry resumes, and the ante only increases with two brothers on one team.
Whenever the NHL ultimately returns, Marc will go head-to-head four times a year against two (and perhaps someday three) brothers. Eventual NHL realignment could bring the entire family within the same division, and more games against each other will only help grow both the rivalry and the bond in this iconic NHL family.
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