By Michael Smith
They are the three new faces on the blue line as the Canes, due to injuries and in an effort to become a tougher team to play against, have added three big, reliable bodies to their defensive corps.
Five days into the on-ice portion of training camp, it’s been a smooth transition for the newcomers.
“There is a bit of a learning process with the systems, but you pick that up quickly,” Komisarek said. “For the most part, it’s just building chemistry with the guys around you, creating that trust, communicating with your teammates on and off the ice.”
“I’m taking it day in and day out,” Sekera said. “Learning the system, learning the habits of the other guys, what they do, what I should do, where I should be. It’s getting better each day.”
Sekera, 27, was acquired from Buffalo in a draft-day trade on June 30. Komisarek, 31, was signed at the outset of free agency on July 5. Hainsey, 32, agreed to terms just last Thursday. All three came to the team under different circumstances, yet they all find themselves in the same situation now: getting acclimated to a new city, a new dressing room, new teammates, a new coaching staff and a new system.
“We’ve got six exhibition games in two weeks to make sure we have everything sorted out, and we will,” Hainsey said.
“I think a lot of us are coming here trying to work the rust off,” Komisarek said. “During the summer, you’re practicing, working out and doing a lot of drills, but you’re not getting into those 5-on-5 situations and battles in the corners with guys leaning on you.”
Head coach Kirk Muller singled out Sunday’s Red-White scrimmage as a strong point for the new faces on defense as they become comfortable with the defensive aspects of the Canes’ game.
“Sekera looks like he’s getting better everyday,” he said. “I loved his Red-White game yesterday.”
Sekera, who said he likes to skate, enjoys the high-energy system the Hurricanes play.
“This is more up-tempo. Everybody has to be tight with good gaps everywhere. It’s a little bit different,” he said. “I’m taking away time and space and joining the rush if I can.”
Off the ice, the trio has found a number of willing helping hands in the adjustment to a new city.
“I think the guys make it pretty easy. The organization, first and foremost, makes the transition very smooth with helping you with what you need off the ice, whether its housing, schools, doctors, anything like that,” Komisarek said. “Settling into Raleigh has been smooth and easy for my family.”
“I’m getting used to the environment, the people and getting around the town,” Sekera said. “It’s the same group of guys, just different names. They welcomed me pretty well. They try to make my life easier on and off the ice, and I’m very thankful for that.”
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Notes from Monday’s Training Camp Skates
Jiri Tlusty, who has been off the ice since Friday, skated with Group B today in a yellow, no-contact sweater.
Nathan Gerbe, who has been away from the rink due to personal reasons since the start of camp, was back on the ice with Group B today.
“It’s always tough missing days,” Gerbe said. “Now, I just have to jump in, get going and work my hardest to get up to speed.”
One practice session remains before the Hurricanes face Columbus in the preseason opener on Wednesday. The team will then travel to Buffalo, Quebec City and Montreal for a three-pack of games to finish the week.
“At the end of the day, all they want to really do is play hockey games,” Muller said. “I think we’re right on target with our objectives of introducing one part of the system one-by-one and making it competitive.”