If I’m counting correctly, there are 28 days left until the CBA expires. The rhetoric has ratcheted up this past week. We’ve heard doom and gloom stories from the media and pronouncements from fan groups about organized social media protests. There have been plenty of message board proclamations about how fans will give up their season tickets or boycott the league if there is a work stoppage. Believe me, I understand the frustration of fans everywhere. Going through the NHL/NHLPA negotiations and the cancellation of the 04/05 season was misery. I could not imagine that the league and players would put the fans through another work stoppage. Shame on both parties for getting to this point. I understand why some fans might walk away for good. As for me, I will be back whenever the game comes back. I love the NHL and the Carolina Hurricanes. I will not let Gary Bettman (for the 3rd time) and Donald Fehr take this away from me. I, along with many others fans have invested too much time and have too many great memories of this team and game to throw it away because of Bettman (owners) and Fehr. What memories am I talking about? Here’s four that are special.
#1 John Forslund and Tripp Tracy. I know Tripp drives everybody crazy with his food references. And when the Canes are losing I’ve told Tripp to “shut up” on more than one occasion. My thought is he might be a goofball sometimes but he’s our goofball. As for John, there is nobody better IMO. When John gives us a “that’s hockey baby”, I’m ready to jump out of my seat. The best thing about Tripp and John is that they give credit where it is due. They are homers without going overboard. They don’t turn into Jack Edwards or Hawk Harrleson.
#2 The “secret weapon” Nick Wallin chest bumping the glass after beating Marty Brodeur in the 2006 playoffs. It it one of my all time favorite images in Hurricane history. We were sitting in section 327 row J and I can still see Nick getting the pass from Rod Brind’Amour on the right wing and plowing toward the net. The RBC Center exploded as the puck slipped between Brodeur’s pads into the net. The “secret weapon” was a great Cane. Remember?
#3 Airport visits. They are legendary in Canes circles. I have only gone one time. On Fathers Day, June 18, 2006, after taking me out to dinner, my family asked if there was anything else I wanted to do for Father’s Day. I told them I wanted to go to the airport and see the team coming back from Edmonton. We had been to the RBC Center the night before to watch game 6 on the jumbotron. After the beat down (4-0) there was a sense of doom hanging over Caniac Nation. I could feel it in the arena and even hear it in Chuck Kaiton’s voice, as we listened to the wrap up. That day at RDU I remember fans booing the first two planes. The first had NHL big shots and media types on it and the second carried the Oilers.The fearful feeling disappeared as soon as the team got off the third plane. People had signs and banners. It was like a Sunday afternoon party. The players had smiles on their faces as they got off the plane. They didn’t seem down at all. After seeing that, I was very confident of a game 7 victory. The Oilers didn’t know what hit them the next night.
#4 I remember how Canes fans would cheer wildly anytime a shot of Erik Cole in his neck brace would be shown on the jumbotron. He even waved back one time. Fans wanted to let him know that he had not been forgotten. I hope that he always remembers that, and how popular he was to Canes fans.
My list could go one and on. For me, there is something special about following this team. I have never been able to figure it out. So many great memories packed into a small period of time. So if they don’t mind, I hope Mr. Bettman and Mr. Fehr will spend as little time as possible jerking me and other fans around. I don’t want to wait too long for Tripp’s first food reference.