Well folks, that's not at all how I thought this would end. This hurts. It hurts a lot. But, next season is coming and with it comes the special celebration of our team's time in NC. It'll be special. This was officially my 4th season being a Caniac after growing up a Pens fan. 6 year old me loved penguins and it went from there, what can I tell ya? Around 2017, my love of hockey was starting to fade. There were some people in my life who would use anything against me, and they tried to take my love of hockey away from me. They almost succeeded. I was only pulling for those Cup wins by Pittsburgh so that I had something positive to hold up. By 2018, that love of hockey was a shell of its former glory. Enter Justin Williams. He literally saved my love of the game. I had first heard of Willy in 2014 with LA and was intrigued by him. Being the definitive name when it comes to game 7's is a pretty impressive feat. I decided in the summer of 2017 that I'd start following the Canes a bit, while keeping the Pens first, if Willy came home. Sure enough, he did. With him came something I had never experienced before: a fascination with another team. I did more research on the Canes that summer than I ever have in my life. Even so, the Pens kept my focus on them and when they lost to Washington, I was broken. It was after that loss that I decided to give the Canes more attention.
As I said before, Justin Williams was the sole reason I started focusing on the Canes. I saw on YouTube the Stanley Cup champions movie and quickly fell in love with the team. In July of 2018, I was at Play-It-Again and bought an old Pro-Player Canes jersey for $35. That jersey symbolized my rebirth as a hockey fan. I have never loved a team like I do this team. When Nino Niederreiter sent the Canes to the playoffs in 2019, I was bawling. All year, I had fought alongside this team and had brought many of my new college friends into the fold. That playoff run was personal for me and it was the most fun season of hockey I've ever had.
This team has come a long way since 2018-19. Willy's gone, sadly, and this team just hasn't looked the same. Like I said at the start, this one hurts. This one hurts a lot. To lose to one of maybe 3 teams at most I openly despise leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Despite that, I had a fun year watching this team play hockey. I got to watch one of my best friends take in a hockey game for the first time and I wouldn't trade that memory for anything. But, I know the next season will bring with it fresh hope and optimism, and I cannot wait. It'll also be the 25th anniversary season. I look forward to it and I hope like heck the team honors the original team, the 99 team, the 01 team, the 02 team, the 06 team, and the 09 team. I also hope they retire some numbers. It's time for Cam to get his day and Willy deserves to have his number raised as well. I also hope they'll do something for Steve Chiasson because God rest his soul, he was a great player for this team taken too soon. It'd be really nice to see something other than an award title for him. Anyhow, thank you for the overall pretty decent season and here's to the next one