May 28, 2009
(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. Gone but not forgotten, we've asked for these losers to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here is New Jersey Devils loyalist and Puck the Media editor Steve Lepore, fondly recalling the Carolina Hurricanes.)
By Steve Lepore
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called "surprise."
The Carolina Hurricanes were the defining surprise story of the 2009 layoffs (Other than, you know). I mean, let's face it: All of the 14-year-old homophobes who comment on this blog figured they'd take down New Jersey. Even I had a sneaking suspicion. The Hurricanes were a team specifically built to take down the Devils, as they always are. And they did, in as dramatic a fashion as you could possibly envision.
And it freakin' hurt. As someone too young to remember the '94 Eastern Conference finals ("Matteau, Matteau!"), it was the biggest heartbreak of my life.
Bigger than any Mets choke, any other playoff exit. It hurt. 'Cause we should have beaten you.
But if the Carolina Hurricanes have taught us anything over the years, it's that they're never, ever supposed to win -- but they always do. Remember the series against Buffalo in the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals? Can't we all just admit that Carolina got lucky after Buffalo's top 46 defensemen went down to injury? What about the Stanley Cup Finals this year? If Ty Conklin(notes) doesn't crap the bed with that awful play in the third, would we really have to suffer through hundreds of sportswriter paeans to "Redneck Hockey" fans?
So we have the same situation this year. If Jokinen doesn't distract Brodeur and score the cheapest goal in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Devils win that game and likely the series. Let's not even discuss Game 7.
If the Bruins don't get caught up with Scott Walker(notes) fever -- a fever similar to hepatitis in that it causes anyone who associates it to go downhill (just look at Patrik Elias(notes) this playoff season) -- then the Bruins probably come back and finish off the Canes.
But Steve ... aren't you being unfair? The Canes had some solid, respectable players. Like, uh... that one guy, and uh... the other one.
Sorry, I honestly can't find any player on this roster that I care to say is worth anything. You have Chuckie Finster as your leading scorer, Bat Boy is your captain and your goalie when bearded looks like a white Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Can we honestly trust any of these men? No. But we can't trust their fanbase either, so maybe they deserve each other.
Ah, the Hurricanes "fanbase." The fans that brought us the sleeveless jersey; the tailgate with grits; and awkward old white men sounding a hurricane siren.
Also, they happen to be the fanbase that couldn't sell out two first round playoff games, as well as a Conference final game.
Now, as a Devil fan, I've nearly no leg to stand on here, one might think. Oh wait: We did sell out all of our playoff games, despite the fact we played a team from the south that no one cares about.
So how will we remember the Carolina Hurricanes of 2008-09? The truth is, we won't. At all. Because boy did they flame out like the frauds they truly were against the Penguins.
I have a newfound respect for Crosby, Malkin and the boys (and their anti-Prop 8, unfunny bloggers) after they just smacked the Complaniacs in the face in Round 3. Thank you for ending all of our long national hockey nightmares. Because no one wants to see the Stanley Cup in whatever the hell city Carolina plays in.
That's another thing I don't like about "Carolina." I mean, c'mon, either pick a Carolina or move back to Hartford. You clearly play in North Carolina; who in South Carolina are you fooling to come see these hockey games? You can't even trick rednecks and college kids into seeing the most exciting postseason the world of sport has to offer. Just another on the laundry list of reasons the Hurricanes didn't deserve to win this season, and never will.