"Jordan's better" was the chant of choice for Winnipeg fans during the Hurricanes visit to the MTS Centre on March 18, 2012 as Jet fans tried to do their best to rile up the Hurricanes captain. The chant was short lived, as Eric Staal would go on to have a three-point game that night and lead the Canes to a huge comeback win over a divisional rival. I think Winnipeg has been in the division long enough for fans to know their fan's culture and trolling opposing players is kind of their shtick. However, the whole debate of which Staal brother is the best was something that was being debated around this time last year.
Eric Staal has always been the older brother and the best of the quartet. He's the one with an 100-point season under his belt, a Stanley Cup ring and an Olympic gold medal to his name and he has been a #1 center for basically all of his career but if rewind to one year ago, Eric had arguably his worst season in the NHL. He still finished the season with 70 points in 82 games, but his goal total was its lowest since his rookie season, his plus/minus was amongst the lowest in the NHL for a good part of the year and his point-per-game rate was the lowest it had been in four years. Meanwhile, Jordan Staal had a career season offensively. He scored a career high in goals with 25 and had the highest point-per-game rate of his career with 50 points in 62 games.
Eric still had better numbers, but there were a lot of people wondering if Jordan could emerge as the superior Staal brother with Eric approaching 30 and Jordan set to enter the prime of his career and becoming more of a threat offensively. The common belief was that Jordan Staal has the talent to be a star forward but was being "confined" to a third-line center role with the Pittsburgh Penguins because of their center depth. I always felt that claim was overblown because Jordan's had plenty of chances to center one of the Penguins top-two lines with Crosby & Malkin spending much of the last two seasons injured, but still, a lot of people wondered what Jordan could do if he was put in a more offensive role and if he could emerge as the best Staal brother.
Those who were hoping to see Jordan in a more offensive role got their wish this season after he opted to not re-sign with the Penguins and was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes last summer. It was an opportunity for Jordan to take advantage of playing more minutes with better linemates and possibly have the "break-out" season that many were hoping he would have. Things didn't quite work out this way in his first season, though. In fact, when you look at how the seasons for both Staal brothers went, it's really interesting to see how much they contrasted with everyone's expectations.no comments