Our friends at Puck Daddy Blog have been running the very interesting "Essentials" series for the month of August and today it was the Hurricanes turn. Last month when we were asked to submit our entry for the series, I thought it would be best to have input from all of our writers. They did not disappoint.
After reading all the entries, I selected what I thought were the best answers to submit to Puck Daddy, but after the jump, check out the rest of the story and see what each writer had to say in full.
Agree or disagree?
I will say Ron Francis is the defining player for the franchise, but not necessarily for the more obvious reasons, such as his status as a Hall of Famer and his numerous record holding statistics. When "The Franchise" signed with Carolina in 1998, there was a message sent around the hockey world that the Hurricanes would step up money wise and sign a legitimate, high quality free agent. It also showed the players of the league that a top notch free agent was willing to take a chance on Carolina. The Francis signing was the first step in legitimizing the franchise at it's new location. He turned out to be the best ambassador a club in a non traditional market could ask for.
The 2005-06 season was a dream season for many reasons. The team played very well throughout most of the year and battled for the President's Trophy right up until the end. They finished things up by winning the Stanley Cup in game seven on home ice. It's hard to top that.
Game seven of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. I will never forget the nervous pit in my stomach before the game, the feeling of pride during the game as fans stood throughout, and the feeling of elation afterward. I did not want to leave the arena.
Eric Staal's game tying goal with almost no time left on the clock in game two against the Devils in the 2006 playoffs was my favorite. The ensuing sound from the RBC was described as "a bomb exploding".
I believe Rod Brind'Amour for Keith Primeau was the defining trade for the franchise.
Can a player with a retired jersey be considered "unsung"? I think so. Glen Wesley did not receive many accolades from around the league, but he was "steady eddie" for this franchise his entire time with the Hurricanes. He is second in franchise history regarding games played, (first while in Carolina). No one would sacrifice their body to make a play like Wesley. After lifting the Stanley Cup, Rod Brind'Amour looked for the long time Alternate Captain to hand it off to next, for good reason.
While Keith Primeau perhaps received the loudest and most persistent jeers, Scott Stevens was at one time the most hated player to face the Canes. The head hunting defenseman single-handedly decimated the Hurricanes in the 2001 playoffs, first when he took out high scoring rookie Shane Willis with a blind side hit, then the very next game went after Ron Francis with another high hit. Who can forget the Carolina Captain, wobbling and fumbling his way to the bench after that? The Hurricanes did not give up and earned a standing ovation from their crowd a minute before the end of the series elimination game, but Stevens made sure there was no upset.
My favorite fight was in December of 2001 between Darren Langdon and Rob Ray, two of the best pugilists in the game at the time. The combatants had met each other several times before, but I remember that this one seemed to go on forever as they stood toe to toe hammering each other for a full minute. The "defining" fight is most likely the Boulerice embarrassment to Downey. That fight epitomized Carolina's season that year.
I have to go with Peter Laviolette here. Yes, Paul Maurice served the Hurricanes forever, but it is hard to ignore the mark coach "Lavy" left on this franchise. Laviolette has the best overall winning percentage in franchise history, has the best single season record in franchise history, and he coached the club to their only Cup win. He also coached the USA Olympic team while with the Canes. Laviolette accomplished much in Carolina in a short period of time.
This one is tough but I will go with either Chuck Kaiton or John Forlsund. :-)
This place is obviously well known by fans and players alike for it's tailgating.
nothing special comes to mind here.
old Whaler's jerseys. Anything with the Whalers is pretty cool.
Season: Without a doubt, the 2005-06 Stanley Cup-winning season stands out as Carolina's crowning achievement. One could argue that without that remarkable season, the Hurricanes would be among the small-market teams — like Phoenix and Atlanta — that could barley hold its head above water after the lockout. Instead, the team gained the ultimate franchise momentum by winning the Cup.
Game: It's impossible to match the drama of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The June 19, 2006, game at the then-RBC Center had everything you want in a game. The Carolina fans stood for the entire night; rookie goaltender Cam Ward made a game-saving stop that is one for the ages; and veterans Rod Brind'Amour, Glen Wesley, Doug Weight and Bret Hedican all lifted the Cup for the first time in their long careers. It's a game that is unlikely to be matched by the team ever again.
Trade: When the Hurricanes acquired Rod Brind`Amour from Philadelphia for disgruntled center Keith Primeau, the franchise added another layer of character to a team already featuring veterans Ron Francis and Glen Wesley. While Brind`Amour was initially shocked to leave the Flyers, he eventually embraced not only his new team but also the Triangle region. His leadership was a key component to the 2006 title, and his work ethic set an example still followed by current captain Eric Staal.
Unsung Hero: Without the contributions of Martin Gerber, it's unlikely the Hurricanes would have won the Cup in 2006. Gerber, weakened by illness heading in to the postseason, was unseated and overshadowed in the playoffs by the performance of rookie net minder Cam Ward. But his regular season is still among the best in franchise history. He went 38-14-6 in 2005-06, a record for wins since bested by Ward (in eight more games), and his 65.5 percent winning percentage that season is easily the best of any No. 1 goalie in franchise history — in Carolina or Raleigh.
Franchise Villain: Usually the return on a player holding out fetches 75 cents on the dollar, but the Hurricanes landed Rod Brind`Amour to finally get rid of malcontent Keith Primeau. Primeau had back-to-back 60-point seasons for the Hurricanes in the late '90s, but was unimpressed with Carolina's contract extension offer and instead opted to hold out. It took a while, but Carolina shed Primeau and got Grade-A return in their future captain. Primeau became one of the most hated visitors to Raleigh following the trade, and the most despised ex-Cane in franchise history.
Fight: The most "inspirational" fight in franchise history probably belongs to Doug Weight, who dropped the gloves with Washington's Jeff Halpern during his brief time in Raleigh in 2006. But no fight is more memorable than Aaron Downey's one-punch knockout of Canes enforcer Jesse Boulerice on Feb. 11, 2003. The two brawlers faced off and measured up, but Boulerice's first punch — a wild right — missed, and he paid the price, eating a quick left to the jaw from Downey that floored Boulerice and left him crumpled on the ice. (Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Coach: No coach is more identified behind as being behind Carolina's bench — or more maligned by Hurricanes fans — than Paul Maurice, who took two tours of duty with the Hurricanes and experienced some big-time success, but also consistent failures. In 2002 Maurice led the Canes to the Cup Finals, falling to Detroit in five games, and also led Carolina to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009 after replacing Peter Laviolette midseason. But outside of those two seasons, Maurice lost in the first round three times and finished with eight seasons (including one in Hartford) out of the playoffs, plus two more seasons when he was fired and the team subsequently fell short of the postseason.
Broadcaster: Chuck Kaiton is radio the voice of the Hurricanes and arguably the best one-man show in sports this side on Vin Scully. Kaiton has served as the franchise's radio play-by-play man since 1979, serving in both Hartford and Raleigh. Kaiton was awarded the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 2004, an honor given by the Hockey Hall of Fame to "members of the radio and television industry who made outstanding contributions to their profession and the game during their career in hockey broadcasting." Kaiton is perhaps best known for his tireless effort to correctly pronounce the names of players — specifically players from overseas, as Kaiton will use the native pronunciation of their names — and as the long-time president of the NHL Broadcasters Association.
Arena Behavior/Tradition/Trend: The atmosphere inside a Hurricanes game can be great, but the one outside is always fantastic. Triangle hockey fans have brought a college football feel to their pregame ritual, embracing tailgating like no other team in hockey. In 2006, CBC broadcasting great Don Cherry — fully decked out in an outlandish, double-breasted flowered suit — seemed amazed at the atmosphere as he roamed the the arena parking lot during the Stanley Cup Finals. It's also an example of Southern hospitality at its best, as fans wearing opposing jerseys often mingle, drink and eat with native fans ahead of games.
Swag: Several fans in the lower level have been known to bring sticks with hurricane/tropical storm warning flags (featured in the team's third jersey/secondary logo and along the bottom of their jerseys) and wave them during games, particularly as the team returns to the ice from an intermission. Fans have also embraced the use of cowbells, playing along to a video of the popular Will Ferrell, Saturday Night Live skit.
popular choices here, but by the time he won the Stanley Cup in 2006
he was the only player remaining on the roster that moved with the
team from Hartford in 1997. Hockey in North Carolina had no
definition when the team first moved here, but no player contributed
more to that definition than Wesley. Other fans may wonder why
Wesley's #2 hangs in the rafters at PNC, but for anyone who's followed
the Canes since the beginning it wouldn't be right if that jersey
Season - You can't really pick against the one and only season the
team won the Stanley Cup, although in terms of franchise survival and
putting down roots in North Carolina, I'd argue that 2001-02 (and
specifically the '02 playoff run) was more important. Still, 2005-06
was a once-in-a-lifetime ride that few around here will ever forget.
Game - '09 Eastern quarterfinals, game 7. No one, and I mean no one,
expected the Canes to win a game in regulation that they were trailing
with 1:30 to go. Overtime? Sure, that happens all the time. But to
snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in that manner, when they were
less than two minutes from their season ending? An all-timer.
Goal - '02 Eastern Conference Final, Game 6, Martin Gelinas' overtime
winner. A scrappy goal by a scrappy player that propelled a scrappy
team to the Stanley Cup Final. I will never forget Steve Levy's call
on ESPN2 that night: "And it is strange, but true. Folks, the
Carolina Hurricanes (snickering, trying to keep it together)....are
going....to the Stanley Cup Final. (grand pause) Wow."
Trade - Trading for Doug Weight while giving up nothing more than
spare parts in January 2006 was the loudest message Jim Rutherford
ever sent to this fanbase. Here was a guy who just about half the NHL
was after, with a no-trade clause to boot, and Weight decided that he
would like to come to Raleigh. It was the first sign that the Canes
were serious about a deep playoff run, and it paid dividends many
times over the next few months, both on the ice and in public
perception of the team.
Unsung Hero - Niclas Wallin was a rock of stability on the Canes'
defense corps for parts of nine seasons. Never flashy, almost never
caught out of position, and completely anonymous except in overtime of
playoff games, where he suddenly became Bobby Orr; all four of his
playoff goals were game-winners, and the three he scored while a
Hurricane were all, improbably, in overtime. Wallin was the ultimate
team player, going out and simply doing his job in a highly underrated
Franchise Villain - Scott Stevens. Not even Keith Primeau earned the
level of boos that Stevens received after his back-to-back demolitions
of Shane Willis and Ron Francis in the 2001 playoffs. For the next
three seasons, Stevens heard a chorus of boos every time he touched
the puck, and he served as a personification of the Canes/Devils
rivalry, the fans' first introduction to NHL rivalries.
Fight - Who could really argue against Aaron Downey's one-punch
knockout of Jesse Boulerice in 2003? That punch encapsulated the
2002-03 season for the Hurricanes, in so many different ways.
Coach - Paul Maurice, for better or worse, defines Hurricanes coaches,
and will likely be the benchmark for a long time to come, or until
Kirk Muller puts his stamp on it. Maurice was the first face Canes
fans saw behind the bench, and "Mo hockey" remains a term of derision
among the fanbase, used just about anytime the team dumps the puck in
for whatever reason.
Broadcaster - John Forslund might be the nicest man I've ever met in a
press box. He always has time for anyone, no matter how low on the
totem pole, and the Canes couldn't ask for a better ambassador to call
national games on NBC. Chuck Kaiton might be the voice of the
franchise, but Forslund is the face of the franchise. It would
surprise no one here to see Forslund join Kaiton in the broadcasters'
wing of the Hall of Fame one day.
Arena Behavior/Tradition/Trend - If the answer to this isn't
tailgating, I quit. :)
Arena Food - This is a completely personal answer, but I don't care:
the Italian sausage sandwiches at PNC are, bar none, the best I've
ever eaten anywhere. I don't know where they're from, who makes them
or anything, but man, are they good.
Swag (jersey, hat, shirt, gear, etc.) - Especially in the early days,
fans took after the Canes' alternate logo and made their own hurricane
flags, affixed to sticks and dutifully shown on the Jumbotron just
about every night. Cowbells may have replaced these as the swag du
jour, but the hurricane flags were the Caniacs' first venture into
Player: Ron Francis
When you think of players who have done a lot for both Hartford and Carolina, Ron Francis is probably at the top of the list. He was the captain of the Whalers for six years and returned to the organization in 1998 until his retirement. Francis served as team captain in 2002 when the Canes had their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance where he played a huge role in their incredible playoff run. When you think of players who have done the most for the Hurricanes in their former and current home, Ron Francis is the name who I would point to.
It's hard not to go with the Cup year because there were so many memorable moments during that season with the greatest of them being when the clock ran out in Game 7 against Edmonton. As Carolina fans, we are really fortunate to have witnessed an incredible run like that and getting to see our team lift the Cup is something most Caniacs will never forget. Nothing can compare to it, really.
Game: Molson Miracle (Game 4 vs. Montreal in 2002 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals)
Most would expect the Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Oilers but when I think of games that define the Hurricanes as a franchise, this one immediately comes to mind. Trailing Montreal 3-0 in the third period, Carolina pulled off one of the most inevitable comebacks in team history with two goals from Bates Battaglia and Erik Cole stunning Montreal by tying the game with 40 seconds left. Niclas Wallin would then finish it off in overtime and tie the series for Carolina at two. The Canes would then go on to win the remaining two games of the series and march all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Carolina is a team that is known for their resilience and knack for pulling off some of the most unexpected runs, which is exactly what this win defines.
Goal: Justin Williams empty net goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals
It was the goal that sealed a win for Carolina and brought the Stanley Cup to Raleigh for the first time ever, so it's hard not to go with this one.
Trade: Doug Weight & Mark Recchi trades in 2005-06
It's tough to say how far this team would have gotten in the playoffs without these two. They were very productive in the post-season and brought a lot of experience, which really seemed to help this team.
Unsung Hero: Chad LaRose
He has never been a great goal-scorer or a terribly exciting player but he has been one of the team's more valuable third liners in recent years. Each of the coaching staffs here have used him in a number of different ways and LaRose seems to be effective no matter what role he is placed in. His limited offensive upside hasn't gained him much popularity but he has simply gotten the job done over the years and is a quality player no matter which way you look at it.
Coach: Paul Maurice
His final tenure here may have ended on a sour note but he has been the bench boss in Raleigh for eight full seasons. He was here for Canes first game, their first playoff appearance and their first Eastern Conference Championship. Unfortunately, he wasn't coach during their Stanley Cup Finals but he has been the coach here for most of the team's existence in Carolina, so it's hard to pick anybody else.
Broadcaster: Chuck Kaiton
Between Kaiton and TV announcer John Forslund, Hurricanes fans have the luxury of listening to two of the best play-by-play guys in the business. Kaiton has been with the team since their time in Hartford and has called every game in franchise history and never seems to miss anything on the ice from his view in the press box. Kaiton's a very entertaining person to listen to with his on-air anecdotes and is also very interactive with the fans in the area. His "Kaiton's Corner" segment during intermissions where he answers listener's questions about the game is a fan favorite and always a great listen. He has always been considered the voice of the franchise.
Player – Rod Brind’Amour – He embodied leadership and was the face of the franchise during it’s most important season. He also really embraced the community and he seems to be what the organization is about.
Season – 05/06 – Champs, no other description needed.
Game – Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs – Never have a experienced a situation like that. The crowd never sat down and the sound was unbelievable. Great, great, great experience.
Goal – Game Winner of Game 7 of the 2009 NHL Playoffs against New Jersey. I remember it like it was yesterday. The game tying goal was just scored, Eric Staal looked up at the jumbotron. He got the puck along the right boards, skating it, and put it past Brodeur. I loved that one.
Trade – Brind’Amour Trade – He became a huge part of the organization and it helped the Canes get to 3 ECF, 2 SCF, and win 1 Stanley Cup.
Unsung Hero – Niclas Wallin – The Secret Weapon always played solidly and provided a little offense and just the right time. He was also one of the Canes drafted players during the "lean draft years" that actually made it to the NHL for an extended period of time.
Franchise Villain – Buffalo Sabres – Got to go with CL here, the whole damn team rubs me the wrong way and things were even thrown at me by the fans while attending a Canes/Slugs game.
Fight – I’m drawing a blank on this one.
Coach – Paul Maurice – I hate to say it, but he symbolizes the Canes coaching because he was here so long.
Broadcaster – John Forslund – Kaiton is a Hall of Famer and has a very unique voice, but I love listening to Forslund, even if its not a Canes game
Arena Behavior/Tradition/Trend – Tailgating – It has to be one of the things that is always talked about when others come down to Carolina for a game.
Arena Food – I can’t think of anything real unique or even really that good. I generally eat before the game. The Natty Green beer is something that I always get at the game though.