I found out something yesterday. It turns out that in the Caniac Nation, yesterday, April 8th was Hockey Valentine's Day. I suspect you'd agree. Let's take a look back.
The shy smiles and anticipation had begun by 10:30am when the fans started lining up for small-talk and autographs from no less than Tuomo Ruutu, Tim Gleason, and Alexandre Picard, at the 1st Annual "Caniac Cookout". The grins turned to cheers when John Forslund stood at the podium to introduce the NHL officials on hand for the BIG announcement. The team and city celebrated with gusto as the rumors were confirmed by the Commissioner and, for once, Gary Bettman could revel in the glow of the applause. Finally, at the last home game of the season, the packed house was boisterous, culminating the final minutes with a lengthy standing ovation. Not enough? Pair this vociferous outpouring of pride with "a visual" of hats erupting out of the crowd like little lovebirds showering adoration down on the ice as the players hugged and savored the moment (for those denizens of our notorious blog game threads, that would be the G-rated rendering). Finally, we got a morning-after "love-tweet" issued to all Caniacs from the Hurricanes' as they were leaving on a jetplane, for Boston. What, no flowers?
From looking at the following clips, I can't decide who loves who more? If it weren't so delightful, this public display of affection might even be a tad embarrassing.
After the jump a collection of stories and videos about April 8th in Raleigh, guaranteed to make you smile, your heart swell, and maybe your pulse quicken in anticipation of what's to come. Plus the usual smattering of links about hockey beyond our own little corner of the world.
These videos take a look back on the events of the day. Some of the best are up over at WRAL.com. Full-length video covering the announcement (all 20+minutes) and then the late night news led with the Mood at the game, reporting live from the RBC after the game Thursday night.
Here's the game re-cap from the late news (have you heard WRAL's Jason Jennings say Jamie McBAAAIN yet?) There are also several extended interviews with Paul Maurice, Eric Staal, (they auto-play from here on) Chad LaRose, Team owner Peter Karmanos Jr, General Manger Jim Rutherford, and again with Maurice following the ASG announcement earlier.
And watch Cam Ward as he gushes on how great the fans are (about 45 seconds in) in the video of the Post Game Quotes. Ward told the media after the game:
"We tip our hats as players to the fans. What a display of an atmosphere that was tonight. Y'know, we owed it to the fans to have a strong outing tonight, for all the amazing support that they've given us all season long. And, fortunately we were able to deliver..."
LaRose and Staal pick up the theme and run with it from there as they enjoy the afterglow. Sigh.
Perhaps you'd like to enjoy once more Staal's hattie as called by Pierre McGuire and his colleagues at TSN. (See what I mean about the explosion of hats from the crowd as the perfect climax for the day?)
Or see the Madness that is Chadness: Smelling like a Larose Video - NHL VideoCenter Carolina's Chad Larose gets tripped up by a Montreal defender, but still beats Jaroslav Halak for the goal. What if Rosey couldn't fly?
More Highlights of this love affair between fans and team in this Flavor of the Game Montreal 4/8/10:
(TSN also offered their own game highlights. It seems the sportscaster couldn't recall LaRose's first name, so she went with John. )
Still more accolades: NHL Daily Stats Leaders for April 8 2010- ESPN At the end of the day, the Hurricanes finished with 4 in the top 10: Staal, LaRose, Ward and Jamie McBain. Are you sure we're out of playoff contention? It's really hard to tell.
Reaction to the All Star Game coming to Raleigh in 2011:
Local excitement For NHL All-Star Game, Triangle will go all-out - NHL - NewsObserver.com After years of crafting pitches for a National Hockey League All-Star Game, Raleigh tourism officials awoke Thursday to the realization that they have nine months to figure out how to do it.
TSN.ca: Hurricanes awarded 2011 NHL All-Star Game "I want to make sure I'm having a great start next season so I can be a part of it and get a loud ovation in our building," Staal said.
The Toronto Globe and Mail only could spare the space for a few words, so they went with this very simple explanation to those in Toronto wondering why the NHL would choose a non-traditional market for the event. (yep - they're talking about "us")
Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement Thursday that the league's decision "is a testimony to the strength of the market, the strength of the franchise and, above all, the enthusiastic support" of the Hurricanes' fans.
(Stories from yesterday that shouldn't be lost in the other excitement)
Canes Now - Borer travels long road back to NHL For Casey Borer, it has been a long time coming, with no certainty it would ever come. (For a better understanding of just how bad the accident was, here's the local news story, with comments from Coach Jeff Daniels, about the bus crash from February 2009. To hear the players' thoughts, listen to this with Justin Peters and other River Rats as they readied themselves to return to the ice in this well-done video journal.)
Kaiton's Corner - Drayson Bowman speaks with Chuck Kaiton after his 2-goal night in Tampa
Several Team Awards have been announced this week. Rod Brind`Amour is getting recognition from his teammates as speculation swirls as to whether he's played his last game. After the announcement Tuesday that he was again nominated for the NHL's Masterton Trophy, today the Canes released a statement that the Hurricanes players have chosen Brind`Amour as their nominee for the King Clancy Trophy, also selecting him to be the recipient of the Steve Chiasson Memorial Award.
And from Canes Now - Jokinen, Staal win writers' awards Jussi Jokinen was named Hurricanes MVP and Eric Staal won the Good Guy Award for media cooperation in voting by the Carolina chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
We weren't the only fans expressing admiration and gratitude for a hero on skates last night. Don't miss this story about an impromptu salute to veteran Mike Modano last night in Dallas, described aptly by local announcer Darryl Reaugh: "That was Freakin awesome"
KuklasKorner : Standing O for Mike Modano Storybook stuff
Emotion comes pouring out from Modano - ESPN Dallas Mike Modano tried to keep the tears from flowing all night.
CapsBlog: There Might Not Be Crying In Baseball, But There Is In Hockey - Even Caps fans recognized that a great thing happened outside the Beltline.
Juxtaposed to this story on Modano's mother and her pre-booked cruise vacation which has caused a scheduling conflict with her superstar boy's potential last NHL game in Minnesota tomorrow night, I speak for many a hockey mom in saying "Are you kidding me?!"
Excitement in Minnesota popped up today: Twitter / Michael Russo: The NHL and [Minnesota Wild] will hold a news conference Saturday night at 6 pm to announce that the Wild will host the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
The famous Mellon Arena, home arena to the Penguins and affectionaly known as the "Igloo", hosted it's last game last night as their new state-of-the-art arena nears completion nearby. Many notable alumni of the organization were present to commemorate the event. Pittsburgh Penguins: Mellon Arena Tribute Video (4/8/10) with their pregame tribute looking back on the last 40 years.
What is this word you use?
And some teams will actually be playing hockey after the weekend. Here's looking to the 2009-2010 Playoffs: First Round Matchups - NHL.com What are the potential match-ups set to begin in less than a week?
Prospects and the Draft
Excellent stuff here (s/t to Cory for the pointer): Southeast: Rutherford high on top draft prospects NHL.com Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford used an off-day to watch and review top draft prospects Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler.
In NCAA's Frozen Four, Boston College routed Miami last night, with a final score of 7-1 and will now go on to face Wisconsin (who similarly crushed their opponent, RIT) in Saturday's National Championship Game, broadcast on ESPN at 7pm. Hurricanes' prospect Brian Dumoulin contributed with 3 assists and finished with a team high plus/minus of +3. Some kind words here: BC's Brian Dumoulin Proving To Be Much More of a Plus Than a Minus - Boston College - NESN.com "He’s great with the puck," said BC goalie John Muse, who will start on Thursday night against Miami. "He’s really smart as well. When he gets the puck in our zone, it’s an easy pass to break out of the zone."
Albany River Rats revved up for playoff push - (Troyrecord.com) I count 7 out of 20 players expected on the Hurricane roster against Boston tomorrow afternoon, who will then be re-joining the Rats for practice Tuesday. This can only be good. Let's wish great hockey and a deep run in the Calder Cup playoffs to Zach Boychuk, Drayson Bowman, Casey Borer, Jay Harrison, Bryan Rodney, Jamie McBain, and Jerome Samson who was called up today. There's also Tim Conboy, who returned to Albany this afternoon.
If Defense wins championships,
here are 3 stories to study up, as we move into the summer free-agent signing season.
The NHL’s top defensive defencemen - The Globe and Mail A statistical breakdown of which blueliners lead the way in keeping goals against down (with our own Timmy Gleason at #12). Compare to this list:
Blue-line blueprint: The most intriguing free-agent defensemen - USATODAY.com While 16 teams prepare for the NHL playoffs, 14 more teams will start doing their homework for the free-agent signing period, which opens July 1.
Seidenberg: Disappointing end to season - Bruins Blog - ESPN Boston Interview with Seids on his hopes for when he becomes a free agent again this summer.
Some love for hockey fans in general
A Tampa Bay blogger, to whom many of us can relate this season, explains Hockey fans aren't like other fans - we're better - From The Rink As the 2009-2010 NHL season is winding down, it's time to appreciate the largest part of any NHL team - the fans.
And finally - this was too much fun not to share. To get you in the mood for the Lottery next Tuesday (8pm, Versus) Kiss your productivity goodbye with Oilers draft lottery simulator - Puck Daddy And for the record, I never got the Hurricanes logo to pop up; not even once.
We hope you can make it to the Blog's gathering tomorrow: LAST CALL: Canes Country Closes out the Season: April 10th at Backyard Bistro. Let's go Hurricanes.