Originally written on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/19/14

RALEIGH, NC - APRIL 21: Eric Staal #12 and Erik Cole #26 of the Carolina Hurricanes skate on the ice against the New Jersey Devils during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 21, 2009 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. Carolina won 4-3. (Photo by: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
From the time Eric Staal hurt his knee in May the goal was to be fully healthy and ready when the Canes' preseason camp opened in September. The first on-ice practices were held Thursday at PNC Arena. Staal was ready. "It was a good pace a good practice and hopefully it keeps getting amped up every day" Staal said. "It's been a long summer and everyone was excited to get going." Staal's summer was a particularly long one considering the slow pace of his rehab. Competing for Canada in the IIHF World Championship in Sweden in May he suffered a third-degree sprain of his medial collateral ligament after a dangerous knee-on-knee hit from Swedish defenseman Alex Edler. On Wednesday the Canes announced that defensemen Joni Pitkanen would miss the entire season because of a broken heel bone that has not fully healed. That was a blow for the organization. But having Staal back and healthy with no complications somewhat offsets Pitkanen's injury offering a sense of relief for the organiz...
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