Monthly Archives: December 2020

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Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal Jersey said there’s only one way to approach a 56-game NHL regular season.

“Find a way to get hot early and continue to stay hot,” Staal said Monday during a media call.

The NHL announced Sunday the 2020-21 season would crank up Jan. 13, 2021 and begin training camps Jan. 3. Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said that will mean about eight practices, no exhibition games, then jump into the fire and go at it.

“It’s play for real,” he said. “You don’t tip-toe in.”

For the Canes, it will be much like July, when the NHL began its “Return to Play” postseason format during the pandemic and the 24 teams involved more or less rushed through a training camp. Or 2013, when the NHL lockout ended in January and teams had little time to prepare for a 48-game season and sprint to the finish.

“With a shortened season every game will be that much more heightened,” Staal said. “Everyone will need to be prepared right away and our group has got to jell quickly.”

And without fans to urge them on. The Canes said Monday that after consulting with local health officials, there would be no fans allowed at PNC Arena for the start of the season but noted the “hope” was the policy could change during the season.

The Canes did that in July. There were no coronavirus issues, the camp was productive and the Canes won their first three games, sweeping the New York Rangers, in a playoff qualifier once in the Toronto bubble.

“We can’t have a bad start. It’s too hard and not a long runway to catch up,” Brind’Amour said.

AP20043174372385.jpg
Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour watches his team play the Dallas Stars with left wing Erik Haula (56) center Ryan Dzingel Jersey (18) and right wing Nino Niederreiter Jersey (21) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Michael Ainsworth AP
Brind’Amour said 25 players are in Raleigh going through informal workouts at the team’s new practice facility at the Wake Competition Center. They’re eager, he said, to get going.

No one is bemoaning the Canes’ divisional placement in the NHL’s new alignment for the 2020-21 season. While the East Division looks a lot like the Metropolitan of years past, the Canes have been put in the Central Division for its 56 games.

Not that it looks a lot easier in the Central. Tampa Bay won the 2020 Stanley Cup. The Dallas Stars lost in the final. But the only Metro holdover is Columbus, and the rest — Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, Florida — will make for a different look, feel and challenge.

There’s no Alex Ovechkin one-timers to fear, no trips to Madison Square Garden, no Canadians teams on the schedule. But a lot of Lightning.

“Most of the teams we haven’t played a ton,” Staal said. “It’s obviously weird we’re going to play those teams the whole year, which maybe will cause some new rivalries.”

Count on that. Play a team eight times in 56 games and some fierce rivalries can quickly be hatched.

The top four teams in each division will advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the first two rounds will be among divisional teams. As Brind’Amour put it, that’s a lot of “banging heads” for the players.

“When you’ve got to do it over and over and over, that’s where the rivalries really get cooked up,” he said. “It might be a breath of fresh air for our guys to kind of create a little more rivalry with other teams. But tat the end of the day, they just want to play. It doesn’t matter. Play anybody.”

Another different look this season? Canes president and general manager Don Waddell said he anticipates having advertising decals on the team’s helmets — but not the jerseys — for the first time as NHL teams look to recoup what will be substantial financial losses.

CANES SEEKING THIRD STRAIGHT PLAYOFF BERTH
The Canes, seeking a third straight playoff appearance, will enter the new season with last year’s team all but intact. Former captain Justin Williams Jersey has retired but forward Jesper Fast Jersey was signed as a free agent. The turnover was slight.

It’s also a team, Brind’Amour said, that won’t be lacking for motivation. After beating the Rangers in August, the Canes were bounced out of the playoffs for the second straight year by the Boston Bruins. That stung, again.

“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to end,” Brind’Amour said. “I think that’s the fuel here, the fire. We don’t want to end like that.

“That’s the great thing about having that same group back. They suffered. They went through that together and we want better things. I think that’s what you’re going to see out of these guys.”

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Crown the Carolina Hurricanes as the Kings of Entertainment in the NHL right now.
While this probably won’t go down well with Don Cherry, who will no doubt scream into his computer if he reads this, the Carolina Hurricanes know how to put on a show on and off the ice in the National Hockey League.

It has already been decided by our own Matty Breisch that the New Jersey Devils own the best Twitter account in the entire NHL, a claim that has quite literally gone viral in the social media world.

The Devils can have that accolade because they do kill it but, in my humble opinion, the Hurricanes are the most fun team in the entire NHL.

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And they entertain the masses in so many different ways.

From the famous Storm Surge to their vibrant social media accounts to their wholehearted embrace of the Hartford Whalers, the Carolina Hurricanes just know how to engage with their fans and the wider Carolina community.

As a result, they have transformed themselves from a so-so franchise mired in hockey wilderness into a relevant and fun organization that is a compelling team to watch on and off the ice.

I mean, let’s start with the widely popular Storm Surge – unless you are Don Cherry of course – which set hockey social media alight and put some much-needed fun back into the game.

Because, let’s be honest, the game of hockey and the NHL in particular can be a bit of a closed shop and the league’s best talents and brightest stars aren’t exactly dominating State Farm commercials like NFL stars Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers or Baker Mayfield.

As such, there is a clear disconnect between the NHL and its fans, particularly the younger generation who want to feel closer to the sport they love and also need a clear reason to stay engaged given all the distractions that come with living in a world dominated by technology and other social media platforms.

That’s why the decision by the players, namely former Captain Justin Williams Jersey, to invent a more fun way to salute the home crowd after a win and to mix it up rather than sticking to the traditional stick salute was pure genius.

While some felt it was corny, things like the Skol Viking Clap, the brilliant Duck Hunt, the salute to Carolina’s March Madness roots and the comical Gone Bowling celebrations were a brilliant way to engage the Hurricanes crowd, while attracting a fresh wave of young fans to Carolina games.

Far from being a big and vibrant hockey market, Carolina has to think outside of the box when it comes to attracting new and young fans through the doors, and the now-legendary Storm Surge celebrations, while short-lived, sparked a whole new level of interest in Hurricanes hockey and it also got people talking about the NHL, which is still way behind the NFL, the NBA and MLB when it comes to overall popularity.

In short, the Hurricanes created some much-needed buzz in Carolina around hockey and it went hand-in-hand with what the team are doing on the ice.

Led by their hard-nosed and uber-tough Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour, who captained the Canes to their last Stanley Cup triumph in 2005-06, Carolina boast an exciting, young core of high-end talent that has just exploded into life.

From Sebastian Aho Jersey to Dougie Hamilton Jersey to Teuvo Teravainen Jersey to Andrei Svechnikov Jersey, who puts a whole new level of meaning into fun with his Lacrosse-style goals, the Hurricanes are awash with young talent that will all reach the peak of their powers together and that is scary news for the rest of the NHL.

They are simply electric to watch on the ice, a perfectly put-together mesh of sublime skill, dazzling speed and gravity-defying talent, all resulting in a rapid and beautiful resurgence for this team and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018-19.

Basically, the Hurricanes are built for success and they are only going to develop and get better as a group, which is ideal because we all know that winning is the best kind of advertising for any franchise, so their on ice success will only help to fuel their considerable efforts away from the rink.

Let’s not discredit Carolina’s social media game, either. They bring it on Twitter in particular as good as anyone, mixing quick, witty humour with motivational messages, must-see highlights and behind-the-scenes content and their replies give the New Jersey Devils a serious run for their money.

Plus, “Positive Yet Petty” is a perfect way to describe the Carolina Hurricanes social media team. They just nail it time and time again.

Sebastian Aho (20)
But the jewell in the crown, the Arc de Triomphe if you like, is the dedication the franchise has to paying regular homage to the Hartford Whalers.

One of the most beautiful aspects of hockey, and being a fan of an NHL franchise, is that craving for nostalgia we all have and I think it is pretty fair to assume that most hockey fans would love for the Hartford Whalers to return.

While that probably isn’t feasible anytime soon, the Hurricanes do a stellar job of keeping the spirit of the Whalers alive by hosting an annual Whalers Night at PNC Arena, bringing back Brass Bonanza and those sublime jerseys.

So, it was perhaps fitting that for their Reverse Retro Jerseys, the Hurricanes opted to pay tribute to the Hartford Whalers once again with throwback jerseys that are just to die for.

I mean, if one found its way to me I wouldn’t complain. Hey, didn’t your parents teach you if you don’t ask you don’t get?!

Anyway, while I’m happy to agree with my colleague Matty Breisch that the New Jersey Devils own hockey Twitter, the Carolina Hurricanes own entertainment in the National Hockey League.

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And that is just gospel, forget fact.

So, if you want a good time in 2020-21 and need a lifting of your spirits, tune in to the Carolina Hurricanes because they are the Kings of fun in the NHL right now.