10 years is a long time…That’s how long the Carolina Hurricanes went between playoff births recently. Between 2009 and 2019, the Hurricanes experienced everything from rumors of being moved, near last in league attendance numbers, having more fans from visiting teams in the building, and new ownership. The diehards have seen it all. Those years have finally paid off and the real fans are seeing the rewards of staying put for that decade.
After finally returning to the playoffs, the Hurricanes shocked the hockey world – making it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before falling to the Boston Bruins. While doing so, they became internet popular with their post-game celebrations called “Storm Surges,” which featured human bowling to basketball games and even appearances from celebs as big as Evander Holifield. But yet, some called it a fluke and wondered if another drought would start thereafter.
The Hurricanes followed that with another return to the postseason in the Covid-altered season, sweeping the New York Rangers in the Toronto bubble before falling again to the Boston Bruins. Even after that, some were still skeptical.
Fast forward to the 2020-21 season and the Hurricanes are putting the whole league on notice, especially after their dominating 4-0 victory over the defending champion Tampa Bay Lighting – improving to 12-3-1 on the season and moving into first place of the temporary Central Divison.
The resurgence of the Hurricanes has been through a strong build of their farm system, mixed in with a few key trades and free-agent signings. None more important than the hiring of head coach Rod Brind’Amour. The former captain has completely molded the organization to his gritty style and tough blue-collar play.
Carolina has become one of the toughest teams to play, with a strong forecheck and being towards the top in the league in faceoffs. Leading the way is current captain Jordan Staal, along with talented forwards Sabastian Aho, Andrei Svechinikov, Teuvo Teravainen and Martin Necas who were all acquired via the draft.
The Hurricanes also feature one of the best defenseman groups in all of hockey, led by Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton, and youngsters Haydn Fleury and Jake Bean.
If the first 16 games have shown us anything, it’s that the Hurricanes are poised for yet another post-season run, but also, that these last few years were not a fluke and the “Bunch of Jerks” are here to stay.