Canes goalies Ward and Darling, expected to compete

Scott Darling met Cam Ward for the first time Tuesday morning. Later, at the Hurricanes annual media day, Darling said the two talked about goalie equipment and other benign generalities. What a lot of other folks are discussing is a potential changing of the guard in the crease.

Ward wasn't among the gathering of players asked to face questions at the PNC. A list that included Darling, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, and Justin Williams. GM Ron Francis says Ward has done plenty of similar appearances for the franchise over the years and the PR staff was happy to give him extra time with his family. In other words, don't read too much into his absence.

The veteran Ward has 625 games under his belt as a Canes goalie. He's essentially been the club's top goalie since his stellar playoff run as a rookie in 2005 when he won the Conn Smythe trophy, given to the postseason MVP. That was then and the reality is Ward is suddenly an underdog to retain his top tier status. Darling is 5 years Ward's junior and was signed in the offseason to a four year contract that will pay nearly $4 million a season. The expectation is that Darling builds off his 18 wins produced last season in Chicago. Like Francis, Hurricanes coach Bill Peters isn't handing anyone the starting job and says there will be plenty of opportunities for both players. As the franchise desperately tries to make it back to the playoffs, Darling could very well be the guy asked to lead the way.

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