Few players parked more highs and lows, memorable moments and controversial moments into a shorter Hurricanes career than Eddie Lack. The Swedish netminder, who retired last week due to lingering hip issues, only played two years in Carolina, but it was certainly an eventful two years.
In a pair of seasons (2015-15 and 2016-17) with the Canes, Lack put up a 20-21-9 record with a .902 save percentage and 2.73 goals against average in 49 starts before being traded to the Calgary Flames after the Canes turned to Scott Darling. Those numbers hardly tell the full story of the fan favorite’s Carolina tenure though.
Let’s take a look at some of the high and low moments in Lack’s Hurricanes career.
High moment: Pride Night Shutout
During his time with the Hurricanes, Lack served as the team’s official Hockey is for Everyone ambassador. That provided for a special moment on the Canes’ You Can Play Night against the Ottawa Senators during the 2016-17 season.
It was special enough for Lack to get the start on a night that means so much to so many people, but it was also his return from missing most of the early half of the season with a pair of concussions.
Lack had a topper though, turning in a dynamite performance in stopping all 34 shots he faced. It was a night of celebrating an important cause, Lack’s return and the importance of that cause to him.
Low moment: MAFS
Following a 4-3 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in March of 2017 in which Lack allowed four goals on 16 shots, former head coach Bill Peters had some choice words about Lack’s play.
After a morning skate, Cory Lavalette of the North State Journal asked a seemingly innocuous question about the Canes finally being able to have a goalie competition with Lack and Cam Ward both healthy.
Peters sounded off, and made it clear that, in his mind, one goalie was far ahead of the other.
“Well, you’ve got to push,” Peters said. “One guy has played 10 games. Eddie has played 10 games and was poor in his last outing, let’s not kid ourselves, right? There were 16 shots, four went in. Not good enough. You look at his numbers in the league, they’re not good enough. So I don’t think it’s much of a competition. We’ve got a guy who’s well ahead of the other guy. That’s what I see and the numbers back that up.
“So when he gets in another game, you better play. You better earn some respect from your teammates. Your teammates are out there working their bag off. You better get some saves and a timely save at the right time wouldn’t hurt. That’s a little bit honest, eh? I just looked it up. You look up any goalie who has played 10 games in the National Hockey League and the top 60 in save percentage, I know who’s 60. There’s 30 teams. Not good enough.”
Peters then glanced down in the direction of Lack’s locker (interviews with the coach weren’t within ear shot) and said “Make a [expletive] save.”
Many were critical of Peters’ decision to critique his player to the media, saying it was too harsh and would hurt Lack’s confidence. Given what’s come to light about Peters since, those criticisms probably weren’t unfounded (Peters later apologized for what he said about Lack and admitted it was a mistake).
A funny thing happened, though…
High moment: Red hot stretch
Peters’ criticism seemed to have the opposite of expected impact on Lack’s play, as one night later, he earned the nod for a pivotal road game at Arizona and stopped 25 of 26 shots in a 2-1 win.
Lack then played a pivotal role in the Canes’ 13-game point streak later that month that brought them into the playoff race. Going into his last start of the month, an overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings, lack was 5-1-0 in six starts with a .949 save percentage.
Lack played his best hockey of his Hurricanes career over that stretch, giving the team the high-end goaltending it was looking for when it acquired him and was so often lacking.
About that overtime loss, though…
Low moment: A big scare
In a late March loss to the Detroit Red Wings, Lack suffered what appeared to be a catastrophic injury.
He was bowled into by Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou on the overtime winning goal, and laid on the ice for several minutes. The immediate worry was over Lack’s concussion history, with him having suffered two earlier that season.
Lack was stretchered off the ice and taken to a local hospital for treatment, but it fortunately ended up being precautionary. The injury was a neck sprain, and Lack returned to the net that season for his final action as a Cane.
Some fun moments
One of the biggest things that drew Canes to Lack was the fun he brought to the game. He had a reputation for being a fun lover when he was brought in, from his Twitter account to his affinity for Tacos.
Lack starred in multiple commercials during his time, including a popular tv spot for local restaurant Gonza Tacos and Tequila, and for the team’s “Redvolution” theme.
But, perhaps the most fun moment of Lack’s career game from his father, Wille. During an interview with then Hurricanes sideline reporter Michelle McMahon on the Hurricanes’ Dads trip in St. Louis in January 2016, Wille described himself as “shitless nervous” watching his son and the team.
The elder Lack became a well-known figure among Canes Twitter, the forerunner to Brian Pesce. #shitlessnervous trended on Twitter in Raleigh that night, and became a rallying cry the fan base still uses today.
Ultimately, Lack’s on-ice career in Raleigh was defined by flashes of brilliance too often disrupted by inconsistency and injuries. Still, the Swede brought a much-needed element of fun to the team and market during a dark period in its history.
And it was nothing if not eventful. All of the “highs and lows” outlined here all occurred within a single month of his tenure.
With Lack making the necessary decision to step away and take care of his body, here’s hoping he can find some time to do the things he enjoys, and finds a taco restaurant to sponsor all of his future adventures.