Why should you be a Carolina Hurricanes fan, a Caniac if you will? With the team currently tied for last in the league, this would seem to be a rather large question. Allow me a moment to make my case as to why the Canes are the perfect fit for any hockey fan, be they a traditional puckhead or someone new to the sport. Though the old guard has consistently mocked the very idea of a professional hockey team in a climate warmer than Siberia, it actually makes complete sense.
If you weren’t yet aware, the NHL doesn’t play much hockey outdoors. With the exception of the Winter Classic every year, every other game is played in an arena where temperature, humidity, and ice conditions can be carefully controlled to create the ideal playing surface. This being the case, I wonder what advantage a cold weather environment actually offers? During the Conference finals last year, fans of most teams huddled around their fireplaces trying to keep warm before the long dog-sled rides to the game. In Raleigh however, there was a different atmosphere. Thousands upon thousands could be found in the various parking lots around the RBC center, enjoying the same great type of tailgating they do for football games. A hockey game is not just a 60 min game in the Triangle, it’s an all day event, an excuse to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather with a few thousand of your closest friends.
In addition to the climate, the Hurricanes simply offer fans a better and more interactive experience than any other franchise. There is a reason that ESPN ranked them as the second greatest sports franchise and the top NHL franchise. Last year, ticket prices were the fifth cheapest in the NHL and only one team that was cheaper made the playoffs. Additionally, the Canes offered season ticket holders the ability to freeze their prices for the next two seasons. So what do you get along with these bargain prices? Practices are open to the public and members of the team are in the community on a nearly weekly basis, signing autographs and interacting with fans. Plus, you get the chance to take part in great fan traditions like meeting the team at the airport at the end of each and every road trip. Don’t forget as well, Don Cherry has described the RBC center as the loudest building in the NHL more than once.
Let’s talk hockey; in just 12 years of existence, the Hurricanes have achieved quite a lot. After making the playoffs for the first time in 1999, the Hurricanes have returned several times and to great success. In 2002 they surprised many observers on the way to a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. 02-03 was a disappointing season though that season’s gloom resulted in the draft procurement of a certain Eric Staal. 2006 again saw a return to the Cup Finals, this time with a better ending and the teams first Stanley Cup in Raleigh. Though the next two seasons saw unfortunate results, the Canes again shocked the hockey world last season when they upset both the Devils and Bruins in spectacular seven game series.
As seems to be the unfortunate trend, the Hurricanes are now having a very tough season immediately after a very successful one. This might be disheartening to a potential fan however there are numerous bright spots and plenty of reason to believe this team will be able to return to success relatively quickly. First of all, the current team is largely the same playoff team for last season; they have the ability to succeed when they can stay healthy and get things clicking. Cam Ward and Eric Staal, the cornerstones of the franchise, are both signed to long-term contracts. Additionally, the Hurricanes have tremendous young talent. The success of Brandon Sutter after being called up from Albany this season has shocked everyone, including GM Jim Rutherford. “We thought he’d play at least half a season at Albany, then we brought him in to help – and Brandon has come in and been our best player. He has always been projected to be a player who could have an impact on the organization, but at this age, the offensive skills he’s shown are something.” Something indeed, Sutter is currently tied for second on the team in goals scored (5), is tied for first in +/- (+1), and holds first alone in penalty minutes (0). At the young age of 21, he embodies the bright future of the Hurricanes.
At the end of the day, these are the relevant questions: Do you like good hockey? Do you like great times with friends outdoors in the warm weather? Do you like the underdog, the team that achieves despite the odds seemingly being stacked against them? If you answered yes to these questions, then the Carolina Hurricanes are the perfect team for you. If you don’t like good hockey or friends, well I say to you, you’re still welcome in Caniac Nation. Have no doubt, you will be converted.
- by Hurricanes Insider
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