Things were a little weird for Jeff Skinner back home in Ontario this summer.
Not with his family and not with his close friends, with whom the 19-year-old Carolina Hurricanes star spent most of the offseason. But when you're the reigning NHL rookie of the year, your anonymity disappears.
"I go to the rinks now at home and people know who I am, where last summer they might not have," said Skinner on Tuesday, as the Hurricanes prepared to open their 2011-12 regular season at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
That notoriety transfers to the ice, too. Suddenly, pickup games back home became a hell of a lot more competitive with a Calder Trophy winner on the ice.
"Yeah, I try to stay awake so I don't get injured in any kind of stupid way during a pickup game," said Skinner.
"But after the game, I come off the ice and sign autographs. Which is a little weird for me."
Such is life for Skinner, who played his way onto the Hurricanes roster last season rather than being re...