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Watch touching Eric Staal video tribute from Carolina Hurricanes

Eric Staal played his first game in Raleigh as a member of the New York Rangers on Thursday night after having played 909 of them as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Canes topped the Rangers, 4-3, in a game that saw Staal go scoreless in 18:02. If he had nerves, it would be understandable: Emotions were running high for the former Carolina star and the local fans.

It began when he arrived at PNC Arena, via Rangers Rants:

On a more touching and serious note, Eric Staal was greeted as he walked to the Rangers dressing room with a photo collage on the wall of about 100 photos from his time with the Hurricanes, topped with a banner than just read, “Thank You Eric.”

“I thought it was really cool actually,” Staal said. “When you’re somewhere as long as I’ve been there’s an attachment to the area, to the people. For them to do something like that it kind of brings back a lot of memories. A lot of pictures, I was pretty young in some of them, long locks. Some moments you never forget so that was pretty cool. I’m thankful people took time to come up with pictures like that and memories I’ll remember forever.”

Then, during the first period, the Hurricanes played a stirring tribute video to Staal, detailing his career from his draft year through his dominant goal-scoring years through his time as an All-Star Game captain for the event in Raleigh. 

As the fans cheered, Staal twice saluted the appreciative crowd while his former teammates on the Carolina bench banged their sticks in appreciation. As the sign read: "Thanks for the memories, Eric."

A truly memorable night, and one that Staal will always remember (even when he re-signs with the Hurricanes in the summer). 

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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