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October 16, 2007

Eric Staal

Jordan Staal

Henry Staal

Marc Staal

DAVID KEON: I'm David Keon of the National Hockey League's public relations department, and like to welcome you to today's call. With us today we have four of the Staal family: Father Henry is in Thunder Bay; Eric is in Carolina; Marc in New York, and Jordan in Pittsburgh. Thanks to all the Staals for taking the time today to answer your questions, and thanks to the public relation staff of Carolina, Pittsburgh and the Rangers for making this call possible.
With all three brothers playing for Eastern Conference teams, they will be seeing a lot of each other in the coming months. Eric and Jordan met in the last season and have already had one game against each other to open the season this year. Marc and Jordan, who have played against each other in junior two seasons are now in the same division and will play eight times this season beginning a week today. This Friday, Eric and Jordan about play in Pittsburgh; and on December 3, Eric and Marc will compete against each other for the first time on the NHL level. Thanks again to all the Staals for joining us.

Q. Marc, the other guys are forwards, how come you're a defenseman?
MARC STAAL: It happened when I was like six or seven. Our team wasn't very good, so they put me on defense and I played more; I liked it. I could skate backwards, not well, but better than most of the other people, so kind of stuck after that.

Q. Those forwards get all the publicity and defensemen don't get a lot; growing up, scoring goals and stuff did, it ever bother you?
MARC STAAL: Not really. Obviously everyone loves to score goals, and when I was younger, I scored goals. I don't anymore. But no, it doesn't bother me at all.

Q. And this is for Jordan. What are the odds -- I mean, the odds of even one person from a family -- all kids go to play hockey when they are kids; one person getting to the NHL is astronomical. Three in one family, what do you think are the odds? Every kid wants to be in the NHL -- do you ever stop to think how fortunate you are that all three actually made it?
JORDAN STAAL: Well, just a couple weeks ago, me and Eric were sitting on the couch and we were watching Marc play with the Rangers, and I kind of looked at him, like, "Can you believe this is this? I'm playing you tomorrow, and we're watching Marc on TV."
I don't think any of us really expected it to happen. You know, it is unbelievable that we all made it to this level. I'm proud of my brothers and I'm proud to be here.

Q. Did you think when the Sutters were coming up, that if six of them could make it, maybe three of you could make it?
JORDAN STAAL: I guess so. I mean, it's obviously an unbelievable story on their part, and you know, it's a start for us and hopefully we can keep getting better.

Q. For Henry, I'm wondering, five years ago, had someone told you you would be having an NHL conference call with three of your sons who are in the NHL, what your reaction would have been?
HENRY STAAL: Well, first of all, I probably would have said you're crazy. And I would have been so excited, I probably would have went out and told everybody I knew. (Laughing).
So, yeah, five years ago -- but it's gone pretty fast, though.

Q. How do you find time to watch all of the boys play? Do you travel a lot to the different NHL rinks to check in on the boys?
HENRY STAAL: Yeah, we try to get around a bit. Well, Marc is just starting this year, so we watched his first game. So we just try to plan like a month in advance and try to catch a few games in the Toronto area mostly because they all end up going there, Buffalo, Toronto. So that's kind of what we do. And then at home, it's a lot of DVR recording and watch one game and sit down and skip through and watch the other one.

Q. And the last question, there's also Jared in Sudbury; you spent some time there, as well.
HENRY STAAL: Yeah, we do. Matter of fact I think we're going to head down there this weekend. He has a couple of games at home. That's been our focus last year and this year, as well, is go down there and catch a lot of games in a short time, and it's a relatively short drive.

Q. How proud are you of all four?
HENRY STAAL: Well, we are both really proud of them. They work hard and they have obviously a certain amount of natural talent, but it takes more than that. And they worked really hard at it and are pretty determined to keep getting better.
So, yeah, we're definitely proud of their work and, you know, what we've seen so far.

Q. What's it like when they are in a collision?
HENRY STAAL: I don't mind the hard contact and that kind of thing. I kind of enjoy that had they are going head-to-head against each other. The actual winning and losing part of it doesn't really excite me because there's always one guy not too happy and one guy pretty happy. So, that part I don't really care for.

Q. How many games do you expect to see in person in the NHL?
HENRY STAAL: I aren't really thought about it. I would hazard a guess, I would say probably 15 to 20 and then, you know, if there's some playoffs involved, I'll probably get to a few more of those.

Q. You've answered some questions about the hectic part, but your house, it's empty now; is that a weird feeling?
HENRY STAAL: Well, it's the second year actually.

Q. Is it a weird feeling, you grow up with four buys everywhere and on the ice outside and all over the place and now it's empty.
HENRY STAAL: Yeah, the house itself, it's definitely kind of a strange -- it was a strange adjustment. And I think the biggest thing, too, is not having to get home and organize the driving and tournaments and go here and go there sort of thing. Almost it's a little more relaxed in that sense.

Q. If you could, who was the rowdy brother?
HENRY STAAL: You know what, they are all very -- Marc probably had the biggest -- not the biggest, I don't know how to describe it; the guy that could kind of push buttons a little.

Q. What about the stubborn one?
HENRY STAAL: Oh, I'd have to definitely say Eric.

Q. Why do you say that?
HENRY STAAL: Because, I don't know, that's just his character, and it's stood him well in hockey because he's stubborn -- not that stubborn is the word, but determined.

Q. And the quiet one?
HENRY STAAL: None of them. (Laughing) I don't know, it depends on the situation, I suppose.

Q. You guys like to dodge talking about the Sutters and the comparisons, but it's obvious why it's there. Is there still that feeling of this can't really be happening to us, that's maybe why those questions coming up about the Sutters are dodged a little bit, because it's like, wait a minute here, is this really happening?
HENRY STAAL: Yes, maybe that's a part of it, and the other part of it, and I know that Eric and Jordan have touched on it before, too -- well, Eric has been around a little bit. But the Sutters, it's like all of them had careers, successful careers. You know, I guess maybe because they are just starting out and you don't want to get too far ahead of yourself.

Q. Eric, I wanted to talk about growing up and playing hockey with your brothers; did you have any inkling that you would be playing in the NHL some day?
ERIC STAAL: I don't think initially right off the bat we had an inkling. We all loved the game and we all love playing outside. We played roller hockey in the summer and played hockey in the basement downstairs and played hockey in the outdoor rink; we played any chance we could. We played video games.
We all love the game and I think we all wanted to play in the NHL. I mean, we all worked hard for it. I don't think growing up, though, we ever imagined that one day we would be sitting here on a conference call and all of us wearing different NHL jerseys. But definitely pretty neat now, and I think we are all grateful for the opportunity our parents gave us to try to succeed at playing hockey and making it a career.

Q. Eric, was Jordan competitive when he was young?
ERIC STAAL: Yeah, I think all of us were very competitive. We would have some heated battles out on the rink, and we had some fun no, question. But we are all competitive in nature, and, I don't know where it comes from, but we all have that kind of passion to want to win no matter what it was, and Jordan had that for sure.

Q. Talk about -- predict Jordan's success this year. He had a great year last year, and it's going to be tough to replicate that, but talk about what you think he'll do this year, and did you give him any notes or pointers on how to succeed additionally?
ERIC STAAL: I don't try to give pointers too much. I'm also a young player in this league trying to establish myself fully. And Jordan has obviously had a tremendous year for an 18-year-old; and he's only 19, he's not very old. He's got a lot of years ahead of him. But you know, he thinks the game so well that it makes it a lot easier for him, and plus, he's 6'4, 220; that doesn't hurt, either.
You know, the fact that he can play the game very well in his head, you know, makes him an effective player. And he's doing those similar type of things, make sure you're working very hard and making sure you're trying to improve every day in practice. I mean, he's still, you know, a young player and he's developing and he's kind of finding his own.
You know, I think for a player that comes in at 18, you need to be able to play the game well in your head, and he has that talent. If he just keeps working hard and improving every day in practice, I think he can be very successful and on a good team.

Q. Were you surprised with your brother's success in the NHL last year, and between you, who is the best player, you or Jordan?
ERIC STAAL: Well, I have to say myself; I can't make his head too big. To be honest I wasn't that surprised. You know, in the summer we work out together in the summer, all four of us. And then we're skating with some pro guys at Thunder Bay at the end of last summer, and Jordan was at par with everyone out on the ice.
And I told him before he left: "There's no reason you shouldn't be back." And when he stayed, I wasn't surprised. Maybe a little surprised that he scored 29 goals for an 18-year-old, you know, that was quite an accomplishment. But that just shows you the type of offensive talent he has. And a couple of those goals he scored were for the highlight real and he's done a pretty good job.

Q. We have your game Saturday night; how much do you know about Niclas Backstrom?
JORDAN STAAL: Niclas Backstrom?

Q. Yes.
JORDAN STAAL: I played against him in the world's last summer and I've always heard that he seems like -- he's been a great player and he's not a big guy, but he's a skilled player and he knows -- he sees the ice well and can shoot the puck. That's basically all I've heard. Have to wait and see what he can do.

Q. What's your thoughts about the game against Washington?
JORDAN STAAL: Well, just like last year, you know, it's always been exciting games and they have a lot of talent on the team. It just a matter of I think we've just got to stick with our game plan and not really worry about guys on their team, and just play the way we can play.

Q. What can we expect of Pittsburgh this season?
JORDAN STAAL: Well, there has been a lot of expectations but I think right now, we're trying to just feel it out. Obviously we want to win the Stanley Cup just like any other team in the league.
You know, it's just a matter of sticking to what we were doing before and keep getting better every day. You know, just working on, obviously our system and have it to a T come playoff time.

Q. Marc and Jordan, wondering if October 23rd is circled on anyone's calendar?
ERIC STAAL: Circled on mine.
JORDAN STAAL: It's on yours?
ERIC STAAL: Yeah, I'm going to watch that one.

Q. You want to talk about that one? First time playing against each other in the NHL.
JORDAN STAAL: Go ahead, Marc.
MARC STAAL: Well, I just found out today or yesterday that I'm playing him on Tuesday. I knew it was coming up fast but next week -- in Junior, Peterborough, I believe I laid him out -- have a picture of it, too. I can send that to any of you guys if you want. (Laughter).
No, it's always fun to play against your brother. It's a little bit different and a little bit weird, but I feel like it's pretty exciting.
JORDAN STAAL: Yeah, you know, I played against Eric last year all the time. But it's definitely a lot different playing against a brother who is a defenseman, for one, and going down his wing and obviously this time I'm going to end up dangling him this time. We'll see, it should be a lot of fun, and I'm kind of excited for it.

Q. And Eric, you said you're going to be watching for sure?
ERIC STAAL: Yeah, unless -- I don't know if we're playing or not, but if we're not, I'm sure I'll be watching it.

Q. And maybe a word on Jared, as well. The younger brother; what kind of hockey player is he?
ERIC STAAL: He's a very gifted offensive player. He's got great hands, sees the ice very well. He worked tremendously hard this summer. He worked out with all three of us. He did the track work outs and he improved so much strength-wise.
You know, this year, I think the first couple of games he doubled his point total from the year before. So he's excited about that. It was nice for him, right now he's getting a chance to play a little bit more and develop. You know, he's definitely got some talent and hoping he has a good season there in Sudbury and continues his development as a player.

Q. Can I ask the guys if they feel fortunate they all play in the same conference, because the way the NHL is now, Western teams hardly play the Eastern teams, so at least you get a chance to play one another and see one another.
ERIC STAAL: Yeah, I think it's great, especially, you know, the games that we play now, it's nice to be in the same conference. And for those two in the same division, you get to spend some time with our family and for our parents, they can watch. There's a lot of good things about it and makes for a lot of intense games. You know, it's a lot of fun for sure.

Q. What's happened to the rink?
HENRY STAAL: That died a few years ago. Nobody home; I got lazy and I didn't want to do it for the one kid because they don't spend as much time out there because they don't have a buddy to skate around with. Probably the last couple of years, I basically dismantled it and took the boards away. So it's no longer in existence.

Q. I know you played college hockey and you carved out a niche for yourself in that. But as proud as you are -- funny question if you want to take it that way -- as proud as you are of your boys is there an envious nature there, too, because they are get to go live that dream of playing in the NHL and you may be looking and saying, I wish I could have done something like that?
HENRY STAAL: Well, I definitely wish I could have done something like that. By the time I was five years old, I wanted to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. That was my goal in life. I just loved to play. If I had some talent, I would have tried to go as far as I could with it. But you have to be able to play the game at a certain level and I was never at that level.
But no, you know what, it's exciting. For as much as I love the game, yeah, you know, you say you don't want to live your life through your kids, which I don't, but I just enjoy it. I enjoy the father/son thing, watching the games, meeting the different players. You know, it's been great.

Q. Do you still feel like a hockey dad, meaning, hockey dads drive their kids all over the place and travel all over the place. But here your kids are making money playing the game and playing in the highest league; do you still feel like the hockey dad of four boys?
HENRY STAAL: Not as much anymore. I think -- well, I enjoy -- I think it's more that when you're a hockey dad, you've always got -- I think when you sit around the rink a little bit and chat; and why doesn't the coach do that or a player to do that. And I just shake my head going, these guys know how to play. There's really not a bad player out there. You don't really realize how talented, how hard, how tough, how little time they have, that sort of thing.
So I feel kind of bad giving advice because I know how tough it is to play, but you still get that once in awhile, opinions on maybe you should be playing this and doing this and that, but just in general I think.

Q. It's not that, you know, why did the coach do this; he's a professional coach, right?
HENRY STAAL: Yeah, in the back of your mind, it's still there, definitely. Especially when it comes to your own kids, that's a natural reaction. I try not to do that too much. I mostly enjoy watching.

Q. Henry, it's been brushed on briefly, what the home life was like for these kids growing up in Thunder Bay. Can you touch on the story a little bit about the rink and what that was all about, and just what it was like being -- what hockey is like for a kid growing up in Thunder Bay.
HENRY STAAL: Well, with our family, especially with four boys playing hockey in Thunder Bay -- and we are not unique to anything. We had our own rink in the country, but I think there's a lot of outdoor rinks in Thunder Bay. So kids would go in the outdoor rink, as well. And minor hockey is big. These guys, I don't know, they would probably play on average from between 70 to 110 ice times, and that's starting at like eight, nine, ten years old and right up to 15.
So it's very busy, a lot of practicing in Thunder Bay because of where we live, a lot of the AAA teams -- you know, we would travel to Minnesota or Minneapolis to get a tournament or Winnipeg, which is six, seven hours away. So it was very time consuming. It is the No. 1 kind of show in town and it consumed most of your winter and spring.

Q. Marc, if you can, touch on what kind of a dad Henry was growing up. I'm sure you've got all of the stories about him having to trek you across town in the early morning, and not even in the past five, six years; but probably since the time you could first lace them up.
MARC STAAL: Yeah, both my parents, mom and dad are both obviously really busy all the time. They had to figure out how to get all four of us to different arenas at one time sometimes.
But they never complained. They love watching us play, and you know, by then, it was not like a high-pressure, work-hard-every-day kind of dad. He more gave you just kind of constructive criticism, he liked to call it, and likes to give you tips and things like that.
But he never pressed you to play or work on things or anything like that. He just kind of was always there just to support us. You know, he loved to play the game, and it kind of rubbed off on us I think. He loved watching it. So, you know, it was a lot of fun for us growing up in that house.

Q. Last thing, I haven't heard this story where you played your college hockey.
HENRY STAAL: Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, the local Canadian university.

Q. I have a question for Henry. I'm just curious what that conversation was like with your wife had you saw something on the ice, my assumption would be with Eric because he's the oldest, that said this is more than just fun for them; and it could turn into something. What was that conversation like?
HENRY STAAL: It wasn't so much of a conversation. But probably Eric, when he was 15, he wasn't really on the radar screen in terms of the OHL, and we were not really that familiar with how things progressed in hockey.
But when he had a great tournament in southern imperial and kind of looked at each other and my wife looked at me and said, you know, Eric, he's going to be gone next year, you realize that and kind of had this deathly look on her face, like, he can't leave home yet, he's too young. That sort of was the first moment in terms of maybe this game going farther than just, you know, playing it as a kids' game. Not that they won't play for fun, but that it could become something more than just a pastime.

Q. My other question is for Eric. You guys mentioned playing video games just to kind of get any type of hockey in there, but have you ever actually played each other, like Eric being Eric on the video game and Jordan being Jordan on the video game, and how did that turn out?
ERIC STAAL: Well, it turned out for a couple wins for me, I'll tell you that. Well, because of the new NHL EA Sports game, I had to do an appearance and everything in Toronto, and Jordan was there, as well, and both of us were there. And they had the big -- I don't know what it was, 110-inch screen set up with the two controllers. And they said: "All right, you guys play against each other, you're Carolina; he's Pittsburgh."
We had a couple of games against each other with the new game. It's definitely pretty neat the first time. You know, you just play your video game and you see yourself in it. It's pretty cool, and especially now that I'm on the cover of the game and more prominent with it. So it was exciting. I did win the series, but it was fun, for sure.

Q. And for Jordan what do you guys do besides hockey-related working out, stuff like that? What do you guys do when you're home for summers or family gatherings, something that you look forward to doing with your brothers?
JORDAN STAAL: Well, I think we all agree we like to go out and go golfing and stuff like that. Obviously we like to see Marc hack it in the bushes and stuff like that. We like to go to the lake. Eric has a nice cabin on the lake and we just hang out and lay volleyball, that's a big thing, volleyball. There's a whole bunch of things, wakeboarding and stuff like that, just relaxing, and except for obviously summer camp, not too relaxing, but it's fun hanging out with the brothers and catching up with each other and hanging out and having fun.

Q. And my last question is for Marc. Do you feel any pressure to be as successful as your brothers, having two older brothers that are up-and-coming and doing really well; do you feel any pressure to compete with them or at their level? How does that feel for you?
MARC STAAL: Well, last year, Jordan made it and I didn't, so younger brother making the NHL, and he had a great season, that didn't bother me at all.
So I don't really feel like I have to prove anything. I think that the fact that I'm a defenseman and they are both forwards is a lot easier. I mean, I don't have to try to match their goal totals or anything like that. I'm more of kind of a stay at home, try to take care of my own at first, which is nice in that sense.
I think I just want to play well and show that I can stay here all year and just having fun with it.
DAVID KEON: Thanks very much Henry, Eric, Marc and Jordan for your time today.

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