(This month, Puck Daddy asked bloggers for every NHL team to tell us The Essentials for their franchises — everything from the defining player and trade, to the indispensable fan traditions. Here are the good folks from Canes Country, giving us The Essentials for the Carolina Hurricanes.)
By Canes Country
I will say Ron Francis is the defining player for the franchise, but not necessarily for the more obvious reasons, such as his status as a Hall of Famer and his numerous record holding statistics.
When "The Franchise" signed with Carolina in 1998, there was a message sent around the hockey world that the Hurricanes would step up money wise and sign a legitimate, high quality free agent. It also showed the players of the league that a top notch free agent was willing to take a chance on Carolina. The Ron Francis signing was the first step in legitimizing the franchise at its new location. He turned out to be the best ambassador a club in a non-traditional market could ask for. (Bob Wage)
(Honorable Mention- Rod Brind'Amour and Eric Staal)
It's hard not to go with the 2005-06 Cup year because there were so many memorable moments during that season with the greatest of them being when the clock ran out in Game 7 against Edmonton. As Carolina fans, we are really fortunate to have witnessed an incredible run like that and getting to see our team lift the Cup is something most Caniacs will never forget. Nothing can compare to it, really. (Corey Sznajder)
It's impossible to match the drama of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The June 19, 2006, game at the then-RBC Center had everything you want in a game. The Carolina fans stood for the entire night; rookie goaltender Cam Ward made a game-saving stop that is one for the ages; and veterans Rod Brind'Amour, Glen Wesley, Doug Weight and Bret Hedican all lifted the Cup for the first time in their long careers. It's a game that is unlikely to be matched by the team ever again. (Cory Lavalette)
The 2002 Eastern Conference Final, Game 6, Martin Gelinas' overtime winner. A scrappy goal by a scrappy player that propelled a scrappy team to the Stanley Cup Final. I will never forget Steve Levy's call on ESPN2 that night: "And it is strange, but true. Folks, the Carolina Hurricanes (snickering, trying to keep it together)....are going....to the Stanley Cup Final. (grand pause) Wow." (Brian LeBlanc)
(Honorable Mention - Eric Staal goal in final seconds of game two against Devils in 2006 playoffs)
This has to be Keith Primeau for Rod Brind'Amour. I can remember Primeau at his height with the Canes and he was great. Concussions greatly reduced his career. But, after a hold out, Primeau was traded to Philly for Rod Brind'Amour, the man who would eventually lead the Canes to the promised land. (Brian Wert)
(Honorable Mention- Doug Weight trade)
Can a player with a retired jersey be considered "unsung"? I think so. Glen Wesley did not receive many accolades from around the league, but he was "steady eddie" for this franchise his entire time with the Hurricanes. He is second in franchise history regarding games played, (first while in Carolina). No one would sacrifice their body to make a play like Wesley. After lifting the Stanley Cup, Rod Brind'Amour looked for the long time Alternate Captain to hand it off to next, for good reason. (Bob Wage)
(Honorable Mention - Nic Wallin, Martin Gerber, Chad LaRose)
Scott Stevens. Not even Keith Primeau earned the level of boos that Stevens received after his back-to-back demolitions of Shane Willis and Ron Francis in the 2001 playoffs. For the next three seasons, Stevens heard a chorus of boos every time he touched the puck, and he served as a personification of the Canes/Devils rivalry, the fans' first introduction to NHL rivalries. (Brian LeBlanc)
(Honorable Mention- Buffalo Sabres team and fans, Brooks Orpik)
Jesse Boulerice vs. Aaron Downey. Jesse got knocked out. Badly. With one punch. Probably the most lopsided fight I've ever seen. Not exactly a great memory for Canes fans, but wow Jesse went down like a heap. (Brian Wert)
No coach is more identified behind as being behind Carolina's bench — or more maligned by Hurricanes fans — than Paul Maurice, who took two tours of duty with the Hurricanes and experienced some big-time success, but also consistent failures. In 2002 Maurice led the Canes to the Cup Finals, falling to Detroit in five games, and also led Carolina to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009 after replacing Peter Laviolette midseason.
But outside of those two seasons, Maurice lost in the first round three times and finished with eight seasons (including one in Hartford) out of the playoffs, plus two more seasons when he was fired and the team subsequently fell short of the postseason. (Cory Lavalette)
(Honorable Mention - Peter Laviolette)
Split decision here between Hall of Famer Chuck Kaiton and popular local and national broadcaster John Forslund.
You have to talk about tailgating as a way of life. People tailgate before games. They tailgated before the draft. They tailgated all weekend of the All-Star game. They tailgate for Select-a-Seat. They start at 9 am with cookers and beverages and corn hole. It's so popular even our players and their families sometimes participate. (Jamie Kellner)
The Natty Green beer is something that I always get at the game and other local beers are available. (Jeff Berrier)
(Honorable Mention: barbecue)
Cowbells, hurricane flags on hockey sticks, puckheads, tattoos, and Whalers stuff.
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