Carolina Hurricanes Explained

Team Name:Carolina Hurricanes
Current:2011-12 Carolina Hurricanes season
Bg Color:
  1. E13A3E
Text Color:silver
Conference:Eastern
Division:Southeast
Founded:1971
History:New England Whalers
19721979 (WHA)
Hartford Whalers
19791997 (NHL)
Carolina Hurricanes
1997–present (NHL)
Arena:PNC Arena
City:Raleigh, North Carolina
Team Colors:Red, Black, Silver and White
Media Affiliates:FS Hurricanes
ESPN The Fan (99.9 FM)
The Buzz (620 AM)
Owner: Peter Karmanos
General Manager: Jim Rutherford
Head Coach: Kirk Muller
Captain: Eric Staal
Minor League Affiliates:Charlotte Checkers (AHL)
Florida Everblades (ECHL)
Stanley Cups:1 (2005 - 06)
Conf Titles:2 (2001–02, 2005–06)
Presidents' Trophies:0
Division Titles:3 (1998–99, 2001–02, 2005–06)

The Carolina Hurricanes are a professional ice hockey team based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL), and play their home games at the 18,680-seat PNC Arena. They are the only major league professional sports team in North Carolina to play in Raleigh; the state's other two major franchises, the NFL's Carolina Panthers and the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats, are based in Charlotte.

The Hurricanes were formed in 1971 as the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association (WHA), and joined the NHL in 1979 as part of the NHL-WHA merger, renaming themselves the Hartford Whalers. The team relocated to North Carolina in 1997 and won its first Stanley Cup during the 2005–06 season, beating the Edmonton Oilers four games to three.

Franchise history

New England (1971–1997)

See main article: Hartford Whalers. The New England Whalers were established in November 1971 when the WHA awarded a franchise to begin play in Boston, Massachusetts. For the first two years of their existence, the club played their home games at the Boston Arena and Boston Garden. With the increasing difficulty of scheduling games at Boston Garden (owned by the NHL rival Boston Bruins), the owners decided to move the team to Hartford, Connecticut beginning with the 1974-75 season. While waiting for the completion of a new arena in Hartford, the Whalers played the first part of the season at The Big E Coliseum in West Springfield, Massachusetts. On January 11, 1975, the team played its first game in front of a sellout crowd at the Hartford Civic Center Coliseum, and would maintain its home there through 1997.

As one of the most stable WHA teams, the Whalers, along with the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets, were admitted to the NHL when the rival leagues merged in 1979. Because the NHL already had a team in the New England area, the Boston Bruins, the former WHA team was renamed the Hartford Whalers. The Whalers were never as successful in the NHL as they had been in the WHA, recording only three winning seasons. They peaked in the mid-to-late 1980s, winning their only playoff series in 1986 over the Nordiques before bowing out in the second round to the Montreal Canadiens, taking the Habs to overtime of Game 7 in the process. The next year, the club secured the regular-season Adams Division title, only to fall to the Nordiques in six games in the first round of the playoffs. In 1992, the Whalers made the playoffs for the final time, but were bounced in the first round in seven games by the Canadiens.

North Carolina (1997–present)

The Whalers were plagued for most of their existence by limited marketability. Hartford was the smallest American market in the league, and was located on the traditional dividing line between the home territories for New York City and Boston teams. It didn't help matters that the Hartford Civic Center was the smallest arena in the league, seating just over 15,000 people for hockey. The Whalers' off-ice problems were magnified when the start of the 1990s triggered a spike in player salaries.

Despite assurances made when he purchased the team in 1994 that the Whalers would remain in Hartford at least through 1998, in March 1997 owner Peter Karmanos announced that the team would move elsewhere after the 1996–97 season because of the team's inability to negotiate a satisfactory construction and lease package for a new arena in Hartford. In July, Karmanos announced that the Whalers would move to the Research Triangle area of North Carolina and the new Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh as the Carolina Hurricanes. Due to the relatively short time frame for the move, Karmanos himself thought of and decided upon the new name for the club, rather than holding a contest as is sometimes done. A month later, the team dropped the Whalers' colors of blue, green and silver for a new black-and-red scheme.

Unfortunately, the ESA would not be complete for two more years. The only arena in the Triangle area with an ice plant was Dorton Arena, a 45-year-old arena completely unsuitable for NHL hockey; at 5,100 seats, it was too small even for preseason games. The Hurricanes were thus forced to play home games in Greensboro, 90 minutes west of Raleigh, for their first two seasons after the move. This choice was disastrous for the franchise's attendance and reputation. With a capacity of over 21,000 people for hockey, the Greensboro Coliseum became the highest-capacity arena in the NHL. However, Triangle-area fans balked at making the drive down I-40 to Greensboro, and fans from the Piedmont Triad mostly refused to support a lame-duck team that had displaced the longtime Greensboro/Carolina Monarchs minor-league franchise. As a result, while the opening game drew a sellout, most games in Greensboro attracted crowds of 10,000 or fewer. Furthermore, only 29 out of 82 games were televised (over-the-air and cable combined), and radio play-by-play coverage on WPTF was often pre-empted by North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball (for whose broadcasts WPTF was the flagship station), leaving these games totally unavailable to those who did not have a ticket. With attendance routinely well below the league average, Sports Illustrated ran a story titled "Natural Disaster,"[1] and ESPN anchors mocked the "Green Acres" of empty seats; in a 2006 interview, Karmanos admitted that "as it turns out, [Greensboro] was probably a mistake."[2]

For 1998–99 the Hurricanes curtained off most of the upper deck, lowering the Coliseum's listed capacity to about 12,000, but attendance continued to lag. On the ice, however, the 'Canes were now out of the doldrums; led by the return of longtime Whalers captain Ron Francis, Keith Primeau's 30 goals, and Gary Roberts' 178 penalty minutes, they won the new Southeast Division by eight points and made the playoffs for the first time since 1992. However, tragedy struck hours after the team's first-round loss to the Bruins, when defenceman Steve Chiasson was thrown from his pickup truck and killed in a single-vehicle drunk-driving accident.

Despite their move to the brand-new ESA, the Hurricanes played lackluster hockey in 1999–2000, failing to make the playoffs. In 2000–01, though, they claimed the eighth seed, which nosed out Boston, and landed a first-round date with the defending champs, the New Jersey Devils. Although the Devils bounced the Hurricanes in six games, the series is seen as the real "arrival" of hockey in the Triangle. Down 3–0 in the series, the 'Canes extended it to a sixth game, thereby becoming only the tenth team in NHL history to do so. Game 6 in Raleigh featured their best playoff crowd that year, as well as their noisiest.[3] Despite the 5–1 loss, Carolina was given a standing ovation by their home crowd as the game ended, erasing some of the doubts that the city would not warm up to the team.[4]

2001–02 Stanley Cup Finals

See main article: 2002 Stanley Cup Finals.

The 'Canes made national waves for the first time in the 2002 playoffs. They survived a late charge from the Washington Capitals to win the division, but expectations were low entering the first round against the defending Eastern Conference champion Devils. However, Arturs Irbe and Kevin Weekes were solid in goal, and the Hurricanes won two games in overtime as they put away the Devils in six games. Their second-round matchup was against the Montreal Canadiens, who were riding a wave of emotion after their captain Saku Koivu's return from cancer treatment. In the third period of Game 4 in Montreal, down 2–1 in games and 3–0 in score, Carolina would tie the game and then win on Niclas Wallin's overtime goal. The game became known to Hurricanes fans as the "Miracle at Molson"; Carolina won the next two games by a combined 13–3 margin over a dejected Habs club to take the series.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, Carolina met the heavily-favored Toronto Maple Leafs. In Game 6 in Toronto, the Leafs' Mats Sundin tied the game with 22 seconds remaining to send it to overtime, where Carolina's Martin Gélinas would score to send the franchise to their first Stanley Cup Finals. During this series, several Hurricanes fan traditions drew hockey-wide media attention for the first time: fans met the team at the airport on the return from every road trip, and echoed football-season habits honed for games across the parking lot by hosting massive tailgate parties before each home game, a relative novelty in the cold-weather-centric NHL. Inside the building, the CBC's Don Cherry lauded the RBC Center as "the loudest building in the NHL", praise that would be echoed in 2006.[5]

In the Stanley Cup Finals, Carolina would face the Detroit Red Wings, thought to be the prohibitive favorite all year. Though the Canes stunned the Wings in Game 1, when Francis scored in the first minute of overtime, Detroit stormed back to win the next four games. Game 3 in Raleigh featured a triple-overtime thriller (won by Detroit's Igor Larionov, the eldest player to score a last-round goal), which sportscasters called one of the best finals games in history.

The momentum from the Cup Finals appearance did not last, however, and the next two seasons saw the 'Canes drop into the cellar of the NHL rankings; many of the new fans attracted to the team (and to hockey itself) during the 2002 playoff run lost interest and attendance declined. One of the few positive results of these losing years was the team's drafting of future star Eric Staal in 2003. In December 2003, the team fired Paul Maurice, who had been their coach since their next-to-last season in Hartford, replacing him with former New York Islanders bench boss Peter Laviolette. Weekes remained tough, but the offense was suspect; center Josef Vasicek led the team with a mere 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points.

2005–06 Stanley Cup champions

See main article: 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.

The outcome of the 2004–05 NHL lockout led to the shrinking of the payroll to $26 million. The 'Canes, however, turned out to be one of the NHL's biggest surprises, turning in the best season in the franchise's 34-year history. They finished the regular season with a 52–22–8 record and 112 points, shattering the previous franchise records of 94 points (in the WHA) set by the 1972-73 Whalers and 93 points (in the NHL) set in 1986–87. It was the first time ever that the franchise had passed the 50-win and 100-point plateaus. The 112-point figure was good for fourth overall in the league, easily their highest overall finish as an NHL team (tied with third-overall Dallas on points, but with one fewer win than the Stars) and second in the East (one point behind the Ottawa Senators). The Hurricanes also ran away with their third Southeast Division title, finishing 20 points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Attendance increased from 2003–04, averaging just under 15,600 per game, and the team made a profit for the first time since the move from Hartford.[6] In the playoffs, after losing the first two games of the conference quarterfinal series against the Montreal Canadiens, Laviolette lifted goalkeeper Martin Gerber - who had been struggling to regain his form after playing through a bout of intestinal flu - in favor of rookie Cam Ward. The Hurricanes went on to win both games in Montreal, tying up the playoff series and turning the momentum around, winning the series on a Game Six overtime goal by Cory Stillman. Carolina faced the New Jersey Devils in the conference semifinals, which proved surprisingly one-sided, as the Hurricanes beat the Devils in five games. Stillman struck again, once again scoring the series-winning goal.

In the Eastern Conference finals, the Hurricanes faced the Buffalo Sabres, who had finished just one spot behind the Hurricanes in the overall standings. The contentious series saw both coaches - Lindy Ruff and Laviolette - taking public verbal shots at each other's team, but in the deciding Game Seven, the Hurricanes rallied with three goals in the third to win by a score of 4–2. Rod Brind'Amour scored the game winner as the Hurricanes reached the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in team history.

The Cup finals were against the Edmonton Oilers, the first time in NHL history that two former WHA franchises had played against one another in the finals. The Canes rallied from a 3–0 deficit in Game 1 to win 5–4 after Rod Brind'Amour scored with 30 seconds left. In Game 2, the 'Canes shelled the Oilers 5–0 to take a two-game lead.

The Oilers won Game 3 in Edmonton, 2–1, as Ryan Smyth scored the game-winning goal with 2:47 left to play. Carolina rebounded in Game 4 with a 2–1 victory, and came home with a chance to win the Cup on home ice. However, game five saw the Oilers come back with a stunning 4–3 overtime win on a shorthanded breakaway by Fernando Pisani. In Game 6 in Edmonton, Carolina was soundly defeated 4–0; the only bright point for the Hurricanes was the return of forward Erik Cole from a broken neck that had sidelined him since March.

In Game 7, before the second-largest home crowd in franchise history (18,978), the Hurricanes won 3-1, sealing the Hurricanes' first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history. Ward was honored with the Conn Smythe Trophy for the playoffs' most valuable player, becoming just the fourth rookie to be honored with the award. Several Canes raised the Cup for the first time in long NHL careers; Rod Brind'Amour and Bret Hedican had both played over 15 years without winning the Cup, while Glen Wesley - the last remaining Hartford Whaler on the Hurricanes' roster - had waited 18 seasons.

The Hurricanes' Stanley Cup championship marked the first professional major league sports title for a team from North Carolina. As well, they are the first NHL team in history, and only one of two teams to lose nine or more games in a year's playoffs, yet still win the Stanley Cup. The 2011 Boston Bruins also accomplished the feat.

After the Cup

The Hurricanes were not able to follow up their success. In 2006–07, the Hurricanes finished third in the Southeast and eleventh overall in the Eastern Conference. This finish made them the first champions since the 1938–39 Chicago Black Hawks to have failed to qualify for the playoffs both the seasons before and after their championship season. In 2007-08, Carolina again missed out as Washington stormed back to take the division title on the last day of the season, leaving the Hurricanes second in the division and ninth overall in the conference, and making the Canes only the second club in NHL history to miss the playoffs for two seasons running after a Cup triumph.

2008–present

See main article: 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs.

After a slow start to the 2008-09 season, Cup-winning coach Peter Laviolette was fired in early December and replaced by his own predecessor, Paul Maurice. Teetering on the edge of the playoff picture again, the club, on February 7, acquired utility forward Jussi Jokinen from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Wade Brookbank, Josef Melichar and Carolina’s fourth-round draft pick in 2009, then reacquired winger Erik Cole from Edmonton at the March trade deadline and proceeded on a 12-3-2 run to close out the season. The stretch run included nine straight wins, matching a franchise record from the 2005-06 season, and capped off a streak of 12 straight home wins, which set a new franchise mark. The team finished sixth in the Eastern Conference with 97 points, the second-most points in franchise history.

The Canes' 2009 playoff run featured two tight series with dramatic finishes. Game 4 of the first round matchup with the New Jersey Devils saw Stanley Cup playoff history when Jussi Jokinen scored with .2 seconds left in regulation to win the game, the latest regulation game winning goal in NHL history. Then in Game 7, the Devils took a 3-2 lead into the final two minutes of the game at the Prudential Center in Newark before the Canes struck. With 1:20 to play, Tim Gleason saved a puck on his knees at the right point, passed it to Joni Pitkanen on the left boards, who then hit Game 4 hero Jussi Jokinen at the far post for the tying goal. Just 48 seconds later, Chad LaRose sprang Eric Staal for a solo down-ice rush to give the Canes 4-3 game and series wins; Staal's goal was the latest regulation Game 7 winning goal in playoff history. In the second round matchup with top-seeded Boston, the Canes ran out to a 3-1 lead before the Bruins battled back for two wins; in Game 7 in Boston Scott Walker scored the game and series winner 18:46 into overtime to send Carolina to the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh. The Penguins, though, put a decisive end to the Canes' string, sweeping the series 4 games to 0 on the way to their own Stanley Cup championship.

As a result of their surprise run, very few changes were made in the off-season. Veterans such as Aaron Ward, Andrew Alberts, and Stephane Yelle were brought in to help drive the team further, but things did not go according to plan. The Hurricanes experienced a fourteen-game losing streak spanning October and November, and midway through the year, the Canes replaced their only post-lockout captain Rod Brind'Amour with Eric Staal. Despite improved play during the second half of the season, they could not overcome the deficit from early on in the season. The Hurricanes would end up with the 7th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, eventually selecting Jeff Skinner from the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. Brind'Amour retired over the 2010 offseason to take a coaching job with the club.

The 2010-11 year was widely expected to be a transitional year from the veteran-heavy, high-salary club that opened 2009-10 to a younger, cheaper base. The Canes, though, contended for a playoff slot for the entire season, aided by Skinner's emergence as an offensive phenomenon who, as the youngest player in the league, would lead all rookies in points. Raleigh hosted the 2011 NHL All-Star Game in January, and Eric Staal captained a team he selected (opposite a team selected by the Detroit Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom) that featured Skinner (the youngest All-Star in NHL history), Cam Ward, and (for the SuperSkills competition) defenseman Jamie McBain. The Hurricanes went into the final day of the season able to determine their own fate, but lost 6-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning to finish ninth in the East. Skinner was awarded the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, the first player in franchise history to receive that honor. In December 2011, the Carolina Hurricanes fired coach Paul Maurice and hired Kirk Muller. On Monday, February 20, 2012, the Carolina Hurricanes signed Tim Gleason to a four-year $16m extension and on Wednesday February 22, 2012 they also signed Tuomo Ruutu to a four-year $19m extension.

Whaler history

The organization retains many Whaler connections among its off-ice personnel; in addition to many members of executive management and the coaching staff, broadcasters Chuck Kaiton, John Forslund and Tripp Tracy (at the time a minor-league player), and equipment managers Wally Tatomir, Skip Cunningham and Bob Gorman all made the move to North Carolina with the team. Finally, the old goal horn from the Hartford Civic Center remains in use at PNC Arena.

Top minor league affiliation history

Season-by-season record

This is a partial list of the last six seasons completed by the Hurricanes. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Carolina Hurricanes seasons

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against

Records as of the end of the 2010-11 season.

SeasonGPWLOTLPtsGFGAFinishPlayoffs
2006–078240348882412533rd, SoutheastDid not qualify
2007–088243336922522492nd, SoutheastDid not qualify
2008–098245307972362182nd, SoutheastLost in Conference Finals, 0-4 (Penguins)
2009–1082353710802302563rd, SoutheastDid not qualify
2010-1182403111912362393rd, SoutheastDid not qualify

Personnel

Team captains

Note: This list of team captains does not include captains from the Hartford Whalers (NHL) and New England Whalers (WHA).

Honored members

Officially retired numbers:

Out of circulation

When the Whalers moved to Carolina to begin the 1997-98 NHL season, the previously retired #2 for Rick Ley (D, 1972–1981) and #19 for John McKenzie (RW, 1977–79 for the New England Whalers) were returned to circulation, while Gordie Howe's #9 was not. Howe's number is considered officially retired by the Hurricanes, although there is no banner to recognize it.[9] #2 was issued only once, to Wesley for two different stints, before being re-retired for Wesley in 2009, but #19 has been issued to several players since the move, currently Jiri Tlusty.

Hall of Famers: Ron Francis, who captained the team in both Hartford and Carolina and spent 15 years with the franchise overall as a player before joining its staff in 2006, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007. He is the third Hall of Famer to have earned his credentials primarily with the Whalers/Hurricanes franchise. The only other Hall member to have played in a Hurricanes jersey is Paul Coffey, who spent one and a half seasons in Carolina near the end of his career (as well as, two seasons prior, twenty games in Hartford). In the franchise's history, WHA and NHL Whalers Gordie Howe, Mark Howe, and Dave Keon are all members, as is Bobby Hull, although he only played nine games in Hartford. In addition, longtime franchise radio play-by-play announcer Chuck Kaiton received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 2004, an honor granted by the Hall of Fame.

Broadcasters

First-round draft picks

Note: This list does not include selections of the Hartford Whalers.

Nikos Tselios (22nd overall)

Jeff Heerema (11th overall)

David Tanabe (16th overall)

none

Igor Knyazev (15th overall)

Cam Ward (25th overall)

Eric Staal (2nd overall)

Andrew Ladd (4th overall)

Jack Johnson (3rd overall)

none

Brandon Sutter (11th overall)

Zach Boychuk (14th overall)

Philippe Paradis (27th overall)

Jeff Skinner (7th overall)

Ryan Murphy (12th overall)

NHL awards and trophies

Stanley Cup

Prince of Wales Trophy

Conn Smythe Trophy

2005–06

Frank J. Selke Trophy

2005–06, 2006–07

King Clancy Memorial Trophy

2001–02

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

2001–02

Lester Patrick Trophy

1997–98

Calder Memorial Trophy

2010-11

Statistics

Franchise scoring leaders

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise (Hartford and Carolina) history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Hurricanes player

PointsGoalsAssists
PlayerPosGPGAPtsP/G
Ron FrancisC118638279311750.99
Kevin DineenRW7082502945440.77
Eric StaalC5612282795070.90
Rod Brind'AmourC6941742994730.68
Jeff O'NeillRW6731982184160.62
Pat VerbeekRW4331922114030.93
Blaine StoughtonRW3572191583771.06
Geoff SandersonLW4791961733690.77
Erik ColeLW5571681953630.65
Ray FerraroC4421571943510.79
PlayerPosG
Ron FrancisC382
Kevin DineenRW250
Eric StaalC228
Blaine StoughtonRW219
Jeff O'NeillC198
Geoff SandersonLW196
Pat VerbeekRW192
Rod Brind'AmourC174
Erik ColeLW168
Ray FerraroC157
PlayerPosA
Ron FrancisC793
Rod Brind'AmourC299
Kevin DineenRW294
Eric StaalC279
Andrew CasselsC253
Jeff O'NeillC218
Ray WhitneyLW215
Pat VerbeekRW211
Sami KapanenLW203
Erik ColeLW195

Franchise records

(Note: these records include those from the Hartford Whalers)

Individual

Team

Attendance

colspan=3Home Attendance
SeasonAttendanceAverage
1997–98372,5269,086
1998–99335,7088,188
1999–2000508,44112,401
2000–01547,18613,346
2001–02617,13215,052
2002–03642,97315,682
2003–04505,53412,330
2004–05
2005–06639,45415,596
2006–07712,86117,386
2007–08681,96216,633
2008–09679,48816,572
2009–10624,87315,240
2010–11656,61116,415
[11]

References

  1. Callaghan, Gerry. "Natural Disaster." Sports Illustrated, October 27, 1997; Web article retrieved November 19, 2008.
  2. Burnside, Scott. "Karmanos: Hard-nosed owner, die-hard hockey fan." ESPN.com, June 6, 2008; Web article retrieved February 14, 2009.
  3. ESPN.com, New Jersey Devils/Carolina Hurricanes NHL recap on ESPN
  4. SportsIllustrated.com, SI's 2001-02 NHL Team Previews: Hurricanes
  5. Fayetteville Online, Hurricanes fans bring the noise
  6. ESPN.com, NHL Attendance
  7. News: Hurricanes honor Wesley, retire No. 2. 2009-02-17. NHL.com. 2009. Associated Press.
  8. Web site: Canes to retire Brind'Amour's jersey. 2010-07-15. WRAL.com. 2010.
  9. Web site: Kation's Korner, Feb. 26 2011. 2011-05-24. hurricanes.nhl.com. 2011.
  10. Web site: Lepore. Steve. EXCLUSIVE: Bob Harwood Joins the Hurricanes. Puck the Media. 15 January 2012.
  11. http://espn.go.com/nhl/attendance/_/year/2011

External links