The winds of change are blowing through Carolina.
While general manager Jim Rutherford says he expects the team to compete for the rest of the season, he indicated that he'll likely trade away some veteran players before the March 3 deadline.
Carolina sits 30th in the National Hockey League and is clearly positioning for first overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
The move to change the captaincy was discussed for some time with both Staal and veteran forward Rod Brind'Amour for some time.
''The time has come now for Eric to assume the top leadership role for his teammates,'' Rutherford said in a statement. ''This is part of the rebuilding process for the Hurricanes, as Eric is the player around whom the team will be structured. We feel confident in Eric's ability to lead his teammates and are excited to begin this next era.''
Brind'Amour had served as the team's captain since August of 2005 and will remain as an alternate captain.
''Rod has been the consummate leader for the Hurricanes since his acquisition nearly 10 years ago,'' said Rutherford. ''He is the only captain in franchise history to lift the Stanley Cup, and he will continue to play a leadership role in our organization.''
Sources say that Brind'Amour was given veto power over the captaincy change and he chose not to use it.
The 25-year old Staal is the 13th player to serve as captain in franchise history. In 36 games the Thunder Bay-native has 10 goals and 23 assists. He was originally selected second overall by Carolina in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He helped the 'Canes capture the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history in 2006 and was recently named to Canada's Olympic team. He believes that his leadership style will be similar to that of former team captain Ron Francis.
''I don't think I'm a guy that's going to be standing up giving ra-ra speeches in the dressing room,'' Staal told The Canadian Press. ''That's not me and it doesn't necessarily make you a great leader. It's just knowing the right times when something needs to be said and making sure your play on the ice is what guys will follow.''
Head coach Paul Maurice believed that it was just a matter of time for Staal to take over.
''His experiences here and growing up, he's been bred to be a captain of a hockey team from the time he was playing major junior,'' Maurice told The Canadian Press. ''He knows exactly what goes into that. There's no doubt in my mind that he's ready for this.
''At the same time, you cannot fully know what it is to be a captain of team in the National Hockey League until you experience it.''
Brind'Amour feels that the change is indicative of a new direction that the team is taking.
''We've heard for a couple months how we're transitioning,'' Brind'Amour told The Canadian Press. ''I'm sure there's going to be a lot more things happen here in the next couple months to shakeup the team getting ready for next year or maybe down the line.
''This is just a natural (thing) to happen.''