Head trainer Pete Friesen is widely considered to be a genius and one of the best in his craft. Carolina is also lucky enough to have Skip Cunningham in their employ, who is one of the greatest equipment managers in the game today. Friesen not only trains the Hurricanes, but he also works with the Canadian Olympic Team and multiple IIHF teams. Cunningham has over 40 years of experience and is the expert in a number of equipment items — having invented them.
With such world-class staff looking after the Hurricanes and their well-being on the ice, why the rainstorm of injuries?
Having two or three really poorly timed injuries and then pulling through is something that happens in hockey often enough to be cliche. However, for Carolina to be perpetually carrying four, five, and sometimes up to six or seven injured players is preposterous. There’s no reason to have back-to-back concussed players for two months. There’s no reason for both goaltenders to go down with identical injuries within a week of one another. In the beginning of the season, it was an obstacle to overcome. In mid-December, it’s starting to get a little ridiculous.
Something is going on in the conditioning room — or more than likely not happening. If it’s not the conditioning room there are guys going out there with ill-fitting helmets or the wrong type of mouthguard because there’s no reason to be leading the league in concussions. Which likely is not hyperbole as Carolina might actually be leading that category if it was a stat some sick maniac was keeping up with.
At some point or another, head coach Kirk Muller should have called a meeting with the training and conditioning staff and equipment managers. This meeting should have consisted of nothing more than “Guys, do something.”
When injuries are piling up — and so many of them are oddly similar — ‘coincidence’ goes straight out the window. Except for Joni Pitkanen who is out for the season with a broken heel sustained last year in a horrific spill during a dangerous icing foot race, Carolina is currently carrying four injured players. All four are listed as ‘Practicing With Team’ on the injury report, meaning they are likely nearing return.
It needs to stay that way.
Guys are going to get strains, pulls, and knocks on the head. It’s hockey — these things happen. However, the deluge of injuries the Hurricanes have dealt with are indicative of something bigger, and Muller needs to get to the bottom of the matter.