While no one claims to know exactly what's wrong with the Canes spectacularly abysmal record this year (though many have debated this heatedly here at Canes Country and elsewhere), tonight the Carolina Hurricanes take the ice with a newcomer between the pipes and to me, it feels like we're starting a new chapter in the tale.
With a freshly minted #34 on his Hurricanes jersey and his one-color-fits-all white helmet, Manny Legace will, no doubt, be at center stage for many fans still reeling from the loss of Cam Ward over the weekend. Most recently on a try-out arrangement with the AHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers, Legace, at the ripe old age of 36, has a golden opportunity to remind notonly those in the house, but the entire NHL, why he earned a spot on the All-Star roster only 2 seasons ago in 2008, the year he posted a very s GAAof 2.41 with the lowly (as in 27th-ranked) St. Louis Blues. Sounds like he ought to fit right in.
If there is one thing about the Hurricanes that is consistent every single year (and no, it isn't their W-L record), it's the drama. You just can't make this stuff up.
After the jump, some links and quotes from the only people who can turn this ship around, to demonstrate that they "never do it the easy way": the guys who get paid to win games. Following that, I've got a few observations, intriguing goings-on, and a little history of those of the strange athletic species known simply as "goalies". And at the bottom, a chance to rate your emotional state on a Grieving Poll.
Not sure anybody really wants to know this factoid: Our Carolina Hurricanes are not only #30 in the NHL standings, 4 points out of 29th (hockeymom whimpers quietly), but they also reside in the basement of every single Power Ranking I could find this week. Yes, this would be the bottom. Several players and coaches have spoken out, on the record, this week about the state of the team, and I've assembled some of the stories and excerpts:
Canes turn to Legace - Canes - NewsObserver.com This yesterday from Alternate Captain Ray Whitney:
The Hurricanes, even with Cam Ward out and center Eric Staal sidelined another two weeks, still believe a turnaround is possible. "We do," winger Ray Whitney said Monday. "As funny as that sounds to some, and probably only the people in the organization think anything of us as a group, we haven't lost that belief in the locker room yet. Which is good. Once that leaves, we're in real trouble. "We obviously have had some games we felt we should and could have won, and haven't. We've had a stretch now of bad luck with injuries, Who knows, in three months we may be saying 'wetold you so,' but it is time to get going."
Maurice still believes his Hurricanes can turn it around - NHL Insider from Mike Morreale yesterday.
"I still believe in this team," Paul Maurice said after Monday's practice. "We had a tough stretch back in 2003 when half our team was in the medical ward and, even though we were bringing kids up, we weren't getting any better.
"Here it's been frustrating because the last 4-5 games we don't feel we've been that far off from the game we need to be playing. Clearly, we have to be a defensive team, but, at the end of the day, we can't count on winning 1-0 every night."
Canes coach (record 2-11-3) tells CEOs how to build a team - NewsObserver.com For $25 a plate, some of the Triangle's most vaunted CEOs got an hour-long pep talk Tuesday on building a winning team, which would be fine except that it came from Paul Maurice, coach of the dead-last Carolina Hurricanes. Here's an excerpt from his remarks;
Mostly, Maurice urged building a winner out of available parts, not wishing for shiny replacements. You can tell a team gone bad at meal time, he said. All the rich veterans sit together and complain about the new guys. All the rookies sit together and complain about the has-beens. All the Europeans sit together and say, "Nobody talks to me."
To fix it, he explained, you grab one guy from each group and tell him to switch tables. Heads in the crowd nodded.
Droschak: When Opportunity Knocks - Carolina Hurricanes from late yesterday. A great piece by the Hurricanes' veteran hockey writer, built on the concept that one should never waste a good crisis.
"I think everybody knows where we are," said defenseman Tim Gleason. "Brandon, that’s one guy who has taken it to heart, for what he has to do to stay here," Gleason said. "He’s not taking it for granted and taking it for all it’s worth. He’s run with it and good for him. Manny, for example, it’s a big opportunity for him as well. We’re looking for him to stand on his head because that’s what we need. Pretty much everybody in here has an opportunity right now to be that guy because it can’t get much worse. We’re looking for that one win and it will give us a big opportunity to get out of this mess we’re in right now and build from there."
Canes Now - Corvo: winless streak painful experience earlier today with Chip Alexander
So what has the 12-game winless streak been like for Joe Corvo and his teammates? "Pretty painful," he said. "It's like there's a wake every day in the locker room, like we're burying somebody." Asked if he still believed the team has enough talent, enough belief in itself, to turn the season around and get on a roll, Corvoreplied: "I don't know. I guess we'll see when that happens," he said. "I don't know what it's going to take. "I thought we had what we needed at the beginning of the year. Who knows now? Who knows? We've gotguys getting hurt all the time. "I think when we get some healthy bodies back, it's going to help us I think. Right now, it's difficult for us to score goals and it's going to be difficult to beat teams if we're notkeeping them to one or two goals."
Last, give yourself forty minutes while your clicking around Canes Country, and listen to the The Hurricanes Report Podcast, from Hurricanes media spokesmen Branecky and Hanlin, to get their sense of the mood on Edwards Mill Road.
"And I can tell ya, having played the position..."
Do you remember a couple months ago when Harwood put out his "5 Reasons Bubba loves Hockey?"
Here was his Reason #5:
Goalies can be an odd bunch. What normal person would intentionally put himself in front of a puck moving 100 plus MPH? But the goaltender can be the single most important position in all of sports. Not only can a hot goalie steal a game or two for his team, he can steal a playoff series as well.
On the other hand, if the goalie is not on his game and continually allows soft goals, his team has little chance for victory.
Netmindersare also allowed to be individuals within the team. They wear masks with original artwork which is pretty unusual in team sports. But if a goalie wants to wear a mask withweird artwork on the sides, who is going to argue with him?
Some quotes regarding goalies-
Arturs Irbe: Being a goaltender is like being a minesweeper. One mistake is no good.
Jacques Plante: Playing goal is like being shot at.
Brett Hull: I'm not dumb enough to be a goalie.
Jim Taylor: Goalies are three sandwiches shy of a picnic.
With so much respect coming from their peers, how can you not love goalies?
Here are a few recent stories to help you better understand the most important position in sports, which we in Carolina have been so
obsessed with focused on since Saturday's night Cut in Columbus:
Ducks' Giguere: "I'd rather retire than be a backup goalie" - LA Daily News Something needs to happen," Jean-Sebastien Guiguere said. "You get a guy like (Jonas Hiller) that's going to be a free agent at the end of the year and myself, making the money I'm making, either I'm leaving or he's leaving."
According to Scott Clemmensen, It's Not All His Fault - SB Nation Seems the Florida Panthers have some drama playing out in their crease too.
NHL -- The man behind the Toronto Maple Leafs' reversal of fortune? 'The Monster' - ESPN You don't have to look very far to see the catalyst for the Toronto Maple Leafs' sudden, dramatic reversal of fortune. It's the guy they call The Monster. (aka Jonas Gustavsson)
Pre-Game Skate -- Evolution -- Goaltender's Equipment (in case you wondered why they look the way they do) Quick: Who was Jacques Plante? (and if you mentioned "the mask", you're only just getting started)
Speaking of Jacques Plante and how he redefined the position, I can segue nicely to this topic: The Devil’s Trapezoid " Between the Pipes - understanding where "the trapezoid" came from, which is relevant to understanding this announcement from the GM's who are meeting in Toronto this week: General managers opt for status quo on goalie trapezoid - NHL Insider
More on the future of goalie gear in the NHL: This just in from Toronto this afternoon. New measurements will bring goalies down to size - NHL Insider NHL general managers were updated on the status of size-specific goaltending equipment being instituted next season. With 5-9 Legace and 6-3 Leighton, our Hurricanes netminders will find this new set of rules very relevant.
Last, you just gotta love this, from the land that produces goalies almost as fast as they breed reindeer, Finnish Goalie Matti Höylä does his homage to Michael Jackson, as "Thriller":
So, getting back to the Hurricanes' season, tell me, just how does this make you feel?
A week ago, we began comparing the experience of the CaniacNation, as our high expectations from September crashed head-on with the reality of where the team is now in November, to the stages of grieving. There are many who read here at Canes Country but who rarely post. And admit it, you silent lurkers - you know you love our polls. The traffic on the blog has been up significantly the last ten days. I'd guess there are many fans looking for answers, in-depth analysis, minute-by-minute updates, and perhaps even a few who need the cathartic commiserating. To all of you, I'm curious: