Burnside: Blog from Carolina's morning skate

Updated: October 4, 2006, 3:25 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

10:15 a.m. ET: With all due respect to Yogi Berra, it's deja vu all over again. It seems like only yesterday we were sitting in this very same seat for the morning skate before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Now, we're back at the RBC Center in Raleigh where the Hurricanes will raise their Stanley Cup banner to kick off the regular season.

How much has changed? The first player on the ice this morning was backup netminder John Grahame, who, a season ago, was watching the Stanley Cup banner raised to the rafters in Tampa Bay.

Martin Biron
Rick Stewart/Getty ImagesLet's just say Mr. Burnside isn't a fan of the Sabres' new uniforms.

10:20 a.m. ET: The Versus television crew is here. What is a Versus, anyway? Included in the crew are Doc Emrick, reporter Bob Harwood and color analyst Ed Olczyk. A year ago, we were in New Jersey to watch a kid named Sidney Crosby take his first NHL licks with the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team coached by Olczyk. As Dylan once said, "The times, they are a-changin'." I think it's always good to get a Dylan quote in at the morning skate. Start things off on the right foot. Or skate.

10:26 a.m. ET: Speaking of Game 7 ... The lasting memory from that morning skate was the ripple of excitement when Doug Weight came onto the ice with his busted-up shoulder. Everyone was abuzz about whether Weight would try and make a go of it. He didn't, of course, but it was the news of the day until the puck dropped. Now, Weight is back in St. Louis and the Hurricanes are a dramatically different team.

10:33 a.m. ET: One of the interesting new faces here in Raleigh is defenseman Tim Gleason, who came over from Los Angeles along with veteran center Eric Belanger for blue-chip defensive prospect Jack Johnson and Oleg Tverdovsky. Gleason told us yesterday that he was in the car headed to the rink in San Jose with three teammates when Kings coach Marc Crawford called him to tell him to come back to the team hotel. When he got there, Crawford and assistant GM Ron Hextall put Gleason on the phone with GM Dean Lombardi, who told him he was headed to the defending Stanley Cup champions. Does he feel pressure being dealt for such a promising player? No. In fact, he said he and Belanger talked after and decided it was a feather in their collective caps to be involved in such a deal.

10:37 a.m. ET: Don't know whether this falls under "it's a small world" or "bits of absolutely useless trivia," but Hurricanes equipment manager Wally Tatomir and I are from the same small town, Essex, Ontario, not far from the border city of Windsor. Tatomir has been with the franchise since they were the Hartford Whalers. When his turn with the Cup came this summer, he took it to the Royal Canadian Legion branch in Essex and he reports that it marked the first time the Cup had ever been in a Legion in Canada. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

10:44 a.m. ET: One of the interesting stories on this Carolina team is the role of defenseman David Tanabe, who was drafted by the Hurricanes with the 16th overall pick in the 1999 draft. The smooth-skating native of White Bear Lake, Minn., never realized his potential here and bounced around, moving from Phoenix to Boston. The Bruins walked away from an arbitration award this summer and GM Jim Rutherford swooped him up. In theory, the new NHL should play to Tanabe's strengths. We'll see.

10:51 a.m. ET: Now for our favorite part of the morning skate, going into the dressing room where reporters and players will mill about for a few minutes discussing what might or might not happen in a game eight hours from now. Stay tuned!

11:40 a.m. ET: OK, back in the seats watching the Sabres. And we will say this about the Sabres' new jerseys: Bleecchh.

11:48 a.m. ET: Peter Laviolette told us he thought about calling good friend John Tortorella, coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, to ask about what he might be in for coaching the year after winning the Cup. He didn't, joking that he was afraid the ultracompetitive Tortorella might have tried to misdirect Laviolette to gain an edge. Speaking of coaching relationships, you'll remember Laviolette and Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff having a little set-to in the media over whether the Hurricanes had champagne on ice for Game 6 of the conference finals. They didn't, and Laviolette said he and Ruff exchanged pleasantries at the NHL awards ceremony in Vancouver, so no hard feelings. At least until tonight.

11:52 a.m. ET: The Sabres lost assistant coach Scott Arniel, who went to Manitoba to coach the AHL Moose, but replaced him with one of the game's true gentlemen, James Patrick, who played 1,280 NHL games.

11:54 a.m. ET: What do you think the chances are that the starting goalies tonight, Ryan Miller for Buffalo and Cam Ward for Carolina, will be the starting goalies for their respective countries, United States and Canada, at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver? Pretty darn good, we think.

11:56 a.m. ET: It must be weird for Buffalo defenseman Jaroslav Spacek to be here. He's with a new team, but will undoubtedly be feeling some deja vu of his own having been a stalwart with the Oilers on their run to the Stanley Cup finals. If the Sabres are to challenge for the Cup again this season, and many people believe they will, the underrated Spacek will be a big part of that.

11:57 a.m. ET: The Sabres are engaged in the time-honored but completely pointless tradition of shooting pucks into an empty net, which always signals the end of the morning skate. Off we go to the dressing room. See you tonight!

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.