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Currently based out of Raleigh, North Carolina, the Hurricanes originated in New England under the moniker of the Whalers. A WHA team that was absorbed into the NHL in 1979, they became known as the Hartford Whalers to appease the Boston Bruins. While many in the northeast wax nostalgic about the Whalers, they do not miss the team’s perennial sub-par record that earned them only three playoff berths over the years.
Having dealt with the limitations of their small market for long enough, the team packed up and headed south for the 1997 season to debut themselves as the Carolina Hurricanes. Despite the effort for a fresh start in a new city and with new colors, the Canes quickly ran into logistical issues. Their new arena was not finished, forcing the team to play 90 minutes away, which angered fans due to the both the drive and their displacing of another beloved local team. The fact that the team did not play well enough to make the playoffs did not help either.
However, by 2001 the Carolina Hurricanes had made a statement about the team they were becoming. They had made the playoffs for the second time in three years and put up a valiant effort against the defending champion New Jersey Devils. They followed this up the next season with a tremendous performance in the postseason which brought the Canes all the way to the finals before the Red Wings emerged as champions in the five game series.
The Hurricanes continued to gather momentum as a team and had a breakout year in 2005-2006. Following the NHL lockout, the Canes stormed onto the ice and turned in their best regular season performance in franchise history. Eliminating the Montreal Canadiens in six games and then the New Jersey Devils in five games, Carolina faced off against the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference Finals. A heart pounding series throughout, the action culminated in an unforgettable game seven where the Hurricanes rallied back from a third period deficit to overtake the Sabres and win the series.
The 2005-2006 Stanley Cup Finals was one for the ages. The Carolina Hurricanes represented the Eastern Conference and the Edmonton Oilers rose up out of the west to represent the Western Conference. After jumping out to a 2-0 series lead, the Oilers punched back with a game three victory. Carolina edged them to the brink of elimination with a 2-1 victory in game four. Edmonton gave it all they had in games five and six, forcing a deciding game seven. At home, in front of the Carolina faithful, the Hurricanes completed the series with a 3-1 win and a celebration unlike anything in team history. Captain Rod Brind’Amour hoisted the Cup to the cheers from the crowd.
As with all championship teams, a mix of retirements, free agency departures, and trades disbanded the team to a degree and the chemistry that brought the Cup was lost. They did make another run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009 before being knocked out of the postseason tournament by the Pittsburgh Penguins. This marked the last time the Hurricanes laced up their skates beyond the regular season.
Eager to break the playoff drought this season, the team will be led by a new coach for the 2018-2019 season. Returning to the club in a different capacity, Rod Brind’Amour will stand behind the bench and make the decisions for this club. The man that captained the only championship team in franchise history now hopes to get them there while wearing a suit. While the Stanley Cup is his ultimate goal, Brind’Amour’s first task is to turn this team back into a strong competitor and breach the wall of the playoffs. He has a talented young team that has been backstopped by the consistent goaltending of his former teammate, Cam Ward. However, this offseason the 34 year old netminder has moved on, signing with the Chicago Blackhawks. Scott Darling, who came over from Chicago with the intention of becoming the starter last season, may finally get his chance. The defensive corps is led by Captain Justin Faulk. Trevor Van Riemsdyk was added to the roster to protect the blue line. Up front, Jeff Skinner leads the charge alongside Victor Rask, Justin Williams, and Jordan Staal. Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen are also major contributors to the stats sheet. While the task of rising to playoff caliber in the Metropolitan Division may be large, the Carolina Hurricanes are up for the challenge.
Among the best players to have worn the Hurricanes red jersey are Ron Francis, Eric Staal, Rod Brind’Amour, Cam Ward, Erik Cole, Arturs Irbe, Sami Kapanen, and Glen Wesley. Click here to learn more about the Carolina Hurricanes franchise.