A month after Canes Country reported that the Raleigh News & Observer had stopped sending beat writer Chip Alexander on the road to cover the Carolina Hurricanes, the newspaper confirmed it will resume traveling to report on the team's games beginning with the regular season finale.
Steve Ruinsky, the N&O's deputy sports editor, said the newspaper had decided to return to the road starting April 11 with the team's final regular season game at New Jersey. With the Hurricanes seemingly on their way to the postseason, the N&O found the resources to resume its full-time Canes coverage for that game and beyond.
"We were hoping to get back on the road if they were going to make the playoffs," Ruinsky said. After the New Jersey game, which Ruinsky said "could be a deciding game," the N&O plans to staff Carolina's home and road playoff games.
To start, the N&O will likely send just Alexander — who revealed he would resume traveling during an online chat March 25 — on the road.
The newspaper would look into further staffing road games — perhaps with photographers or more writers — if the team were to advance in the postseason, but Ruinsky made no promises.
"I don't know," he said. "For right now, it's looking like [it will be just Alexander]," Ruinsky said. He was also noncommittal about the N&O's planned coverage for next season.
There has been a noticeable decrease in stories previewing road games in the N&O since the changes, but the newspaper has received access to the team following road games, enabling it to use wire reports and quotes to piece together game recap stories for its print edition. With Carolina having just two road games (March 28 and April 11, both at New Jersey) remaining on the schedule, that means just one game — Saturday's game vs. the Devils — will be without an N&O reporter for the balance of the season.
The Hurricanes and the N&O have seemingly had a solid relationship since the team came to Raleigh. The team has been complimentary of the amount of coverage the team gets compared to what some of the large-market teams in the NHL receive, and Ruinsky believed the Hurricanes were understanding of newspaper industry's struggles and the overall economic climate that led to the change in February.
"I would hope it had not hurt the relationship," Ruinsky said.
One thing it definitely won't hurt is the fans who want all the Hurricanes news they can get.