As temperatures and heat indices in the Triangle hovered near record levels, Carolina Hurricanes fans enjoyed good times at the Summer Fun Fest on Friday, July 22 at the RBC Center.
This summer marked the fourth year of the event and featured activities, games, concessions, music, special guests, a "State of the Canes", and a game viewing.
The event wrapped up seat selection week for current full-season and 26-game plan ticket holders and offered 12-game ticket holders and prospective season ticket holders an opportunity to preview available seating for the upcoming season.
Fun Fest was highlighted by a State of the Canes address, which for the first time was broadcast simultaneously on 99.9 The Fan. The Fan's Mike Maniscalco and Hurricanes play-by-play announcer John Forslund shared the stage for general comment and analysis, and Forslund interviewed Hurricanes forward Chad LaRose and assistant coach Rod Brind'Amour.
Because it's always an adventure when the Canes battle the Sabres, the evening concluded with a viewing of Game 7 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals.
After the jump, a few observations from the State of the Canes.
Chad LaRose Interview:
- LaRose was invited by Pete Friesen to participate in this year's prospect conditioning camp. It was his first time on skates for the summer and he said he "felt it". He is now routinely back on the ice, and says that his focus for next season is "preparation", being at the top of his ability for each game.
- He has familiarity with both Tim Brent and Anthony Stewart from competing against them in the OHL in addition to the NHL games.
- LaRose was obviously frustrated by the disappointing end to last season and keeps a copy of the article from the last game on display in his home.
- Always a fan favorite, during the audience Q&A session one very young fan piped in with not a question but rather a simple comment: "I love you, Chad."
Rod Brind'Amour Interview:
- When asked about the move behind the bench, Brind'Amour commented that he felt his role last year game him limited action with the Canes organization itself, and that he felt the new role would allow him to make a greater impact.
- Brind'Amour remarked he would like to see scrimmages during this year's training camp for player evaluation.
- He spoke highly of Tomas Kaberle as a defenseman with great vision. He also commented that Brian Boucher may actually be the newcomer to make the greatest impact with his ability to back up Cam Ward in net.
- When asked whether being a head coach was on his plans, Brind'Amour replied "one step at a time." He went on to say that he is technically a head coach already, on his son's junior team, which comes with its own set of challenges ("I had to cut a couple of kids and that's no fun"). He shares coaching responsibilities with some other local hockey legends including former 'Cane Steve Halko and Lyle Wildgoose of the Raleigh Icecaps. Brind'Amour praised the Hurricanes organization for their support of his youth hockey responsibilities, which will allow him to limit his travel during the upcoming season.
- Thanks to an audience question, Canes fans now know that the name Brind'Amour translates into "a little love".