Cardiac Cane takes a look at current Carolina Hurricanes’ broadcaster Shane Willis’s career in the NHL
Many Carolina Hurricanes’ fans know Shane Willis more from his role as the partner to Mike Maniscalco in the Hurricanes LIVE pregame show. But long ago, Shane Willis was actually an up and coming player who was part of the Hurricanes cup run in 2002. Unfortunately, a cheap shot from Scott Stevens gave Willis a concussion in the quarter-finals of that year’s playoffs. After that, Willis was never the same but he still had an interesting career in hockey.
Before the NHL
In 1995, the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted Shane Willis 56th overall in the NHL draft. Willis and the lightning wouldn’t come to terms on a contract, though, and Willis would reenter the draft during the 1997 draft. Ironically enough, Willis played for the Prince Albert Raiders and the Lethbridge Hurricanes during the intervening years. While with the two Junior teams, Willis accumulated 97 Goals and 176 points in 136 games. Still, whether it was because of him holding out or other issues, Willis dropped even further in the draft to 88th overall where the Carolina Hurricanes picked him.
After his draft year, Willis spent one more year in Juniors where he continued his
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the impressive scoring pace with 58 goals and 112 points in 64 games. In the 1998-99 season, Willis moved up to the Carolina Hurricanes AHL affiliate at the time the Beast of New Haven. The move to a higher level of hockey did little to slow him down. Willis scored 31 goals and 81 points in 73 games his. In the 99-2000 season, Willis moved to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the now defunct IHL and had a good year but not as good as his year in the AHL.
Time with the Carolina Hurricanes
Shane Willis made the roster for the 2001 season Hurricanes out of camp. And what a year it would be for the 23-year-old right winger. It was a career year for Shane Willis. He scored 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points in his rookie year. He took fifth in Calder voting and was named to the NHL’s 2001 All-Rookie team. He was a major part of helping the team reach the playoffs that year and ranked 6th overall on the team for points and tied third overall for goals with Rod Brind’Amour and Sami Kapanen.
Things were looking great for Shane Willis until the Carolina Hurricanes met the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the playoffs. In the second game with the Devils up two goals with the goalie pulled Scott Stevens decided to lay this disgusting hit on Willis:
Willis would miss the rest of the playoffs with a concussion from a hit in a meaningless part of a game. After that things wouldn’t be the same for Willis. He never came close to matching his rookie season production the following year and the Hurricanes traded him back to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Life after Carolina
Shane Willis’s career would never return to the level it was during his rookie season with the Carolina Hurricanes. After a year with the Lightning, Willis spent most of his time either in the AHL or playing in Europe. In the 2009 season, Willis played his last game as a professional hockey player with the Springfield Falcons. Before he played for the Falcons that season, Willis signed a contract to be a player/coach for the ECHL Wheeling Nailers. In 2011 the Hurricanes hired Willis to be their Youth and Amateur Hockey Director. He worked for the Hurricanes until he started his current pregame gig with Fox Sports last year.