“You learn a lot more from losing than winning.”
- Ted Orion – fictional character, Mighty Ducks 3
With that in mind, the Carolina Hurricanes and its fan base should be geniuses after a season that can be called nothing more than disappointing. So let’s look at some of the things we’ve learned after this year. After all, Coach Orion said we should have learned quite a bit.
We should have known this. After all, Sharp Things was even a category in Celebrity Jeopardy on SNL. However, Nash and Giroux both made incidental contact with Cam Ward (Nash) and Joe Corvo (Giroux) and both players received severe skate cut injuries just 23 days apart in November. Both players healed but thanks to an awful start and bad mojo from the hockey Gods on these freakish injuries, all signs pointed towards an awful year for the Canes. Just think about this. When was the last time you saw a Canes player cut by a skate much less two in the same month? Exactly.
- If you take someone out with your knee, it’s totally ok if you are an all star – taught by Gary Bettman
Not long after Corvo skated off the ice thanks to his cut, Alex Ovechkin decided to be like the Knights who say Nee and knee Tim Gleason. Ovechkin was given a game misconduct but was only given a two game suspension from Gary Bettman. Ovechkin getting off rather soft for infractions seemed to be a theme all season in the NHL and lead to many accusations of preferential treatment towards his star. The Ovechkin knee was the most famous knee in sports since Nancy Kerrigan as this hit was the center of the hockey world.
- The best win of a season can occur on a Sunday afternoon in November – taught by the Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild came to Raleigh for an early 1:00 face-off with an extra bit of confidence despite losing three of the last five. Why you ask? Because they were set to take on the winless in the last 14 games Carolina Hurricanes, that’s why. The Canes had found new ways to lose in this stretch. Losing games they made great comebacks in (Pittsburgh October 15), games where the defense couldn’t stop anyone (Philadelphia October 31), games the offense didn’t show up (Florida November 4) and games where they just flat out played a better team (San Jose November 1). But on this day, D-day if you will, the Canes finally climbed out of the metaphorical black hole to get a W. The fact that the Canes blew a three goal lead and had to win in a shootout was acceptable considering the way the previous 14 had gone.
- 30 stitches ain’t nothing – taught by Tim Gleason
What happens when you play the guy who just kneed you just 11 days before and you’re a guy who has no issues dropping the gloves? You get a puck to the face, get 30 stitches and then score the best goal for your team all season, of course. It wasn’t enough for Gleason to simply play in this much anticipated game, so after taking a puck to the face and getting 30 stitches, Gleason hit the ice again and was playing his usual minutes. While killing a penalty, he intercepted a pass and went off on a break away. Ironically, it was Ovechkin chasing him as Gleason blasted a slap shot past a clueless Jose Theodore. All the hype leading up to this game, the stitches and the fact it was a shortie makes this one of the best moments of the year and simply the top goal of the season.
Injuries, terrible play, trades and nothing to lose is terrible for most everyone in a franchise with the lone exception being the kids sitting on your AHL team busses ready to finally make the show and get on the plane. Sutter, Carson and Dwyer were three guys who played in Raleigh this year that started in Albany and all made impacts. Sutter played in 71 games scoring 20 goals seeing time on the power play. Dwyer played in 58 games scoring seven times and adding five helpers and was one of the best penalty killers for the Canes. Carson was a rock on the defense playing significant minutes in 54 games. Looking at the season from the start of it, perhaps the biggest shock wasn’t how much these three kids played but how well they played in the process. It wasn't just these three, either. 32 of the 41 players invited to training camp saw action in Raleigh this season.
- Sometimes giving a guy a C is giving him an S – taught by Eric Staal
You put a C on a guys’ shoulder and he wears an S on his chest. One night after being named the fifth Captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, Eric Staal scored a hat trick and magically turned back into the dominant player he has to be. That huge S on his chest just below the small C on his shoulder was most evident the last week of the season as he scored nine points in two games against Tampa Bay and Montreal.
- Family importance can sometimes only matter for three months – taught by Ray Whitney
The hottest item the Canes had on the market come trade deadline day was Ray Whitney. Whitney had everything a team poised to make a playoff run would want; he’s an older veteran on the end of an unrestricted contract who can play the power play, lead a locker room and has made deep runs in the playoffs before including winning a cup. However, the biggest story for the Canes come trade deadline day was not this trade but rather how this trade never happened. Whitney reportedly refused a deal that would have sent him to LA citing he didn’t want to move his family. Who can’t respect that? However, just three months later Whitney would not resign with the Canes wanting to test the free agency waters. I guess not moving your family only matters for three months sometimes.
- Even crappy stories have good endings – taught by the Carolina Hurricanes
Despite the awful season and awful play at home, the Canes gave their fans an awesome show to close out the 2010 home schedule. All fans in attendance received a free hat which almost no one left with thanks to Eric Staal’s hat trick. Perhaps the only people upset with the Canes awesome ending was the good people at Chevy. Those 10,000 hats all with Chevy logos were now being swept away into trash bags just minutes after Staal scored his third of the night to close out the 2009 – 2010 home schedule.
- Fresh ice works both ways – taught by the Boston Bruins
We just couldn’t go out normally. We couldn’t just shake each others’ hands and talk about how much golf we would play over the summer. Nope, the Canes had to end this awful season with just one more dagger. The last game of the regular season saw the Canes on the bad end of an NHL record as the Boston Bruins scored three times on one Carolina power play, a first in the long and storied history of the league. The sad thing is you could almost see it coming thanks to Tripp Tracey’s famous line when the period ended as the Canes had just begun a power play. “The Canes will get fresh ice.” Well Tripp, the ice is just as fresh on the other end. The Bruins proved that theory correct three times in less than two minutes.
- Wasting 50 million dollars isn’t fun – taught by Jim Rutherford and Peter Karamanos
To say the least, this season was pretty awful for the Canes. A metaphorical nightmare, the season was over before it even started. This team had the pieces to win a cup again but for whatever reason it just didn’t work. To say that 50 million was wasted this year would probably be an accurate statement and it surely didn’t work out the way we all hoped. Wasting 50 million not being fun is certainly something we didn’t need to be taught, but it certainly was reinforced this past year.
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