Tuesday, June 26, 2012


   You know, it’s funny how life takes us on a journey of twists and turns. Such is the case for me, as I find myself newly relocated in North Carolina less than ten minutes from the PNC Arena in the heart of “Cainiac” country. What is funny is that I grew up spending the majority of my weekends following this franchise when they were known as the “Whale” in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. Remembering how awesome it was to see the Howe family skate together on the same team. It almost seems fitting that this is where I find myself being that I never truly took my eye off of this team even after they packed up and headed South. A part of me was even quite pleased when the raised the Cup back in 2006 as I had waited what seemed to be a lifetime to see this franchise win a championship.

   With all of that said, I have started to settle in here in this beautiful part of the country familiarizing myself with my new surroundings and checking the pulse of this “Southern Fried” hockey fan base. I have to say that the heartbeat is strong and very passionate, so the term “Cainiac” is quite appropriate. Although the fan base may not be as well schooled as some traditional hockey markets, the fire, passion and support these fans feel for their Hurricanes rivals that of any NHL city. That fact is extremely apparent just by giving a quick glance into the chat rooms, message boards or any social network platforms where hockey talk dominates. Even more apparent as of now, due to the latest Draft Day drama that took place the other night in Pittsburgh. Where we saw possibly the biggest trades of the off-season instantly send shockwaves through this sleepy southern community as well as the rest of the hockey world.

   The rumors had been swirling for days leading up to the draft as the writing was on the wall and it was no secret that something had to give in regards to the situation Jordan Staal and the Penguins found themselves in.  Also well known was the desire of the Carolina Hurricanes to add Staal to their roster, but at what cost? Therein lay the drama that has caused “Cainiac’s” worldwide hearts to racing either with excitement or disbelief. The cost of landing Jordan Staal in a Hurricanes sweater alongside his brother Eric was indeed quite steep as the price was the number eight pick in this year’s draft, young gun Brandon Sutter and former B.C. Eagle d-man prospect Brian Dumoulin.

   As the dust starts to settle and the reality of the deal starts to sink in, reaction is a mixed bag of emotions for Hurricanes fans. Some applauding Mr. Rutherford for doing whatever it took to land the star forward, some calling for his head for giving up so much for a player who could end up being no more than a one year rental along with some who just don’t know what to make of the entire situation but are happy that the team is doing something active be it good or bad as well as those who think the franchise is doomed. I can understand the mixed feelings amongst the hometown fans as losing an opportunity at drafting another top ten prospect for the future along with a standout such as Sutter is an awful lot of sacrifice, but on the other hand Jordan Staal, who won’t turn 24 until September, brings a ton of upside to a Hurricanes roster for years to come if they can entice him to sign long term. What I believe brings the most anxiety to Canes fans is if Rutherford could have waited a bit longer he just might have been in a position to obtain Staal without having to part with Sutter. The problem with him waiting until Jordan became an UFA next year is the same lack of guarantee that he would come to Carolina as it is whether or not they can sign him. The plus to that is at least now they have a year with him as a Hurricane to get that accomplished which is the better of the two scenarios.

   So my “Cainiac” friends, before you throw yourself into the eye of the storm or call for J.R.’s head on a platter or give up completely on hockey before the season even starts, try to see how this move actually makes your team stronger. How the move actually puts them in a good position to be active in pursuing and enticing bigger name free agents to head south and enjoy what we all already know to be a wonderful place to hang our skates.

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