Every Tuesday from now until the beginning of the regular season I'll do my best David Letterman impression and put together a unique top ten list about our beloved Canes. This week, in honor of Kevyn Adams signing on to be an assistant coach with the Sabres, I'm taking a look at some of the most loved players that are no longer with the organization.
In order to accomplish this task I had to lay down some ground rules though. First of all, this list features only role players. That is, not players that have starred for the team. Players such as: Ray Whitney, Jeff O'Neill, Ron Francis, Arturs Irbe, Justin Williams and Kevin Weekes were all team stars and will not be included on this list.
That being said, enjoy the list and tell me if I went wrong.
10. Jesse Boulerice
Boulerice had his ups and downs (see Aaron Downie) in his three years with the Hurricanes. The Canes knew he had a history of anger management issues as he was charged with assault in 1998 as a member of the Plymouth Whalers after he swung his stick like a bat at the face of an opposing player. Boulerice was never afraid to drop the gloves even if his chances weren't great. He always tried to look out for his teammates whenever possible which made him a popular figure in the Canes community. He was made expendable, however, in 2006 when he was dealt to the St. Louis Blues in the Doug Weight deal. Today he is playing with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL and was last seen in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers in 2008-09.
An interesting note on Boulerice is that he scored every goal of his NHL career with the Hurricanes. Also, on a more personal note, he scored his first NHL goal on my 13th birthday!
9. Bob Boughner
Boughner's career with the Hurricanes was extremely short-lived. He appeared in only 43 games and notched only five assists for the team, but he started a trend with Carolina GM Jim Rutherford. After Boughner, Rutherford began to try to find established defensemen that would help the team's winning mentality. Following him were players Oleg Tverdovsky, Andrew Alberts and Josef Melichar to name a few (I suppose one could track this all the way back to Paul Coffey). A reason for Boughner's appeal to fans would have to fall with John Forslund's proclaimed nickname for the defenseman. Yes, the "Boogieman" had been introduced to the Hurricanes family. Today Boughner can be found off the ice as he serves as the president and owner of the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. He recently resigned from his role as the assistant coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets as well.
8. Marty Murray
Sometimes single moments can always stick out to people. When I heard the name Marty Murray I always think of a certain goal during the 2003-04 season. In the second period of a 1-1 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Murray grabbed a loose rebound off his own shot and circled back behind the net. Murray stuffed in the rebound to put the Canes ahead and helped them go on to win the game. The passion that Murray showed after that goal will forever be stuck in my mind and it will forever be the one thing that sticks out when I hear Murray's name. Skill set aside, Murray generally seemed to be just a likable guy who spent his free time saving cats from trees and helping old ladies across the street. Seems like he never quite fit in with the Broad Street Bullies and was always better suited for "Mr. Nice Guy" roles on teams. Today you can find Murray playing for the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL as he is on loan to the team from the Manitoba Moose.
Where to begin? Where to end? Commodore might be the only person who can make the nickname "Commie" acceptable in the South. His story captured the nation's attention during the 2005-06 run to the Stanley Cup. Every OLN telecast seemed to talk about his giant red afro and his "pimped-out" Carolina Hurricanes robe that he admitted to simply ordering out of the Hurricanes catalog. The RBC Center rocked with homemade versions of the robe and many fans probably missed parts of games because they had the misfortune of sitting behind a kid with a party afro wig dyed red. Commodore enjoyed his best statistical season with the Canes and always seems very reliable on both ends of the ice. Currently, Commodore can be found on the Detroit Red Wings. Commodore can also be found on Twitter @commie22.
6. Andrew Ladd
|2010 - Andrew Ladd||29||30||59||-10||39|
It's really a catch-22. A double-edged sword. The Hurricanes will hate to see a player that they have traded away become such a force in the NHL. Ladd is currently the captain of the Winnipeg Jets (still getting used to that) and last season came within one goal of having a 30 goal -30 assist season. Ladd was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in a deadline deal in 2008. The deal netted the Hurricanes Tuomo Ruutu who has quickly become one of the most popular faces in franchise history. Did the Hurricanes do the right thing? Seems to be an even return right now, but time will tell. Ladd was drafted fourth overall in 2004 in the RBC Center and it would have been a neat story if he played his whole career there, but he did win his first Stanley Cup there, scoring the game-winning goal in Game 2 of the Cup Finals.
5. Danny Markov
Many fans loved the light-hearted Russian defenseman because of the fact that he WAS a light-hearted Russian defenseman. Russians in the NHL (especially defenseman) seem to be more stoic and stone-faced, but Markov was the one that broke the mold. Markov would hold one-timer contests at the end of practice; contests he would usually win. He signed autographs on the plexiglass boards for kids and was always seen with a smile. The icing on the cake would have to be a game against the LA Kings early in the season. The game will be remembered for Eric Staal's first overtime game-winner by most, but some will think of Staal's assist on Markov's goal more. After Markov tied the game, he pounced on an unexpecting Staal and leveled him to the ice. He then leaned in a gave him a little peck on the cheek. The first kiss in Carolina Hurricanes history (might have to fact check that one though).
One-third of the infamous BBC line, Battaglia played a key role in the Hurricanes' success in the early 2000's. He scored 80 goals and 198 points in his six seasons in Carolina. He even notched a 20 goal - 40 point season in 2001-02. He also contributed 5 goals during the Canes run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002. Battaglia teamed up with recently departed Erik Cole and Rod Brind'amour to form one of the best second lines during the playoffs. Battaglia soon fell out of graces with the Canes fans and coaching staff during the 2002-03 season. Bates struggled through 70 games scoring only 5 goals in that span. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for Radim Vrbata during the trade deadline. He recently returned from playing overseas to play for the Tulsa Oilers of the CHL. He still owns a sports bar in Raleigh called "Lucky B's"
3. Sean Hill
The big American defenseman who could really shoot the puck. Sean Hill was one of the most beloved players in Hurricanes history. Fans loved his booming slapshot and his Grizzly Adams attitude. Hill was the first case of a player who slipped through Rutherford's fingers once and then was later re-aquired via a trade from the St. Louis Blues. Hill pumped in 38 goals over his last 3 1/2 seasons with the Hurricanes. Rutherford chose not to re-sign Hill before the lockout and it turned out to be a wise choice. Hill managed only five more goals over three more NHL seasons with the Panthers, Islanders and Wild. Hill will always be remembered for his rough play and hard checks. At a question-and-answer session between Hurricanes fans and Rutherford, commissioner Gary Bettman and owner Peter Karmanos, one fan stood and asked a question about the upcoming lockout and added, "Also, why didn't we re-sign Sean Hill." Clearly a favorite in the Caniac nation.
2. Matt Cullen
|2010 - Matt Cullen||12||27||39||-14||34|
Another Minnesota boy comes in at number 2 on the list. Cullen was signed as a free agent before the lockout. Many people looked over the signing and those that did notice it thought him only to be a depth forward. Cullen had scored over 15 goals only once in his career and he was coming off a poor effort the previous season in which he scored only six times. During the lockout, however, Cullen showed major promise scoring 27 goals and 60 points in only 36 games in an Italian league. He then went on to score 25 goals and 49 points for the Canes playing mainly on the third line. After winning the Cup (many thought he was the best player in Game 7) Cullen sought a big contract and he got one with the New York Rangers. After he left, management spent the entire next season trying to find someone who could center the third line. Trevor Letowski was signed as a replacement but never panned out. Eric Belanger clashed with coach Peter Laviolette. Josef Vasicek played sparingly. Rutherford finally found the perfect replacement for Cullen the next season... Cullen himself. Although he never produced the same numbers as he did that Stanley Cup season, he never lost his touch with the fan base. Cullen's number 8 jersey can be found all around the RBC Center on the backs of his adoring fans. Cullen was eventually traded away during the 2010 firesale in exchange for a second-round pick and Alexander Picard. He currently plays for his hometown Minnesota Wild.
1. Kevyn Adams
One of the most loved players in franchise history, the Canes hit a home run with Kevyn Adams. Adams never put up huge numbers. 2005-06 was his best season. He scored 15 goals and put up 23 points. Not exactly a scoring threat. That was never what made Adams so popular though. He was the NHLPA representative for the Hurricanes and one of the figures in helping to solve the lockout. He always made himself available to the media and the fans. Adams always represented the Hurricanes well on and off the ice. He set the franchise record for most shorthanded goals in a season with 5, including one in overtime with less than a second remaining in Atlanta against the Thrashers. Adams was well known as being very open to the community and never missed an opportunity to do something good, especially with the kids. Wins felt better when Adams were a part of it; a 4-1 loss felt tolerable if Adams scored that one goal. Adams was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in a deal that sent Dennis Seidenberg to Carolina during a time when the Hurricanes had little NHL experience on defense due to injuries. He scored just one more goal during the rest of his playing career with the Coyotes and the Blackhawks. Adams, as previously mentioned, is now the assistant coach to Lindy Ruff and the Buffalo Sabres.
Anyone that I've missed? Think someone doesn't deserve to be on the list? Feel free to let me know.