Carolina Hurricanes: Why the Playoffs Should be Priority Number One

RALEIGH, NC - MAY 26: Eric Staal #12 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates his first period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at RBC Center on May 26, 2009 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Penguins defeated the Hurricanes 4-1 to clinch the NHL's Eastern Conference title.(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - MAY 26: Eric Staal #12 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates his first period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at RBC Center on May 26, 2009 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Penguins defeated the Hurricanes 4-1 to clinch the NHL's Eastern Conference title.(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
4 of 5
Next

Winning the Fanbase Back

Players aren’t the only ones that need convincing that the Carolina Hurricanes are a team worth being a part of. Fans of all types need that convincing as well. A decade of missing the playoffs can put a dent into even an Original Six fanbase. Even the most hardcore of Carolina Hurricanes fans are having their patience tested. The fair-weather fans are definitely not hanging around. The fans outside of the immediate vicinity of Raleigh are finding less and less reason to make the trip once, let alone purchase season tickets. Implant fans have no reason to switch allegiances from their hometown team.

Once upon a time PNC Arena was the loudest, most obnoxious place to play in. Now it consistently ranks towards the bottom of the league in attendance. The drop didn’t actually start to happen until the 2013-2014 season, five years into the playoff drought. Funny enough, the year before that saw the Carolina Hurricanes set its own personal record for average attendance, beating out half the league including Original Six teams like the New York Rangers. This season and last has seen attendance pick back up with promising seasons that looked and is looking like a playoff berth might actually happen.

The 2012-2013 season saw 17,500 fans on average fill PNC Arena. That alone is evidence that the fan base is out there. With over 20 years under their belt the fanbase should have grown from there. The playoff drought put a huge dent into an already-questionable market. So, what if the drought were to end? How soon can the Carolina Hurricanes at the very least return to league average attendance numbers?

The answer to that question lies more in the marketing abilities of the team’s front office than anywhere else. They have been doing an incredible job of it over the last two seasons. My first article here on Cardiac Cane was about how attendance improved on-ice performance and vice versa. Much of what I spoke about then has come to fruition in various forms. Tom Dundon, the new owner, has been a huge part of why attendance is already picking back up. They have had so many exciting things to market. New rookie Andrei Svechnikov, the new post-win traditions, new third jerseys, and new slogan have been beneficial to their efforts.

However the most marketable concept, the true breadwinner, is a playoff run. That is something everyone wants to be a part of. With the Carolina Hurricanes, it is something everyone will want to witness first-hand. The magical 2006 run that lead to the Stanley Cup had moments that fans who were in the stands will cherish forever. Magical moments that are constantly used to bring back happy memories. Even if the Carolina Hurricanes were to be swept in the first round, that is still two home games that can give the fans a “taste” of the future.

Let’s be completely honest about something. No one wants to be a fan of the team that gets the rude end of the jokes in the league. Having to constantly have to defend their support for their team though a decade of mediocrity. The “we have a Cup” clause can only carry a fanbase so far. Simply making the playoffs can erase all of that and give people a reason to be a proud to be a Carolina Hurricanes fan. Even if they have only a concept of what the rules of the sport are.

There is a chance for something incredible to happen in Raleigh with the Carolina Hurricanes. They can be the symbol of the city in sports. No other major league sport exists for the Capitol City. The swirl of red, black, and white can grow to represent the identity of the city the same way the Carolina Panthers represents the Queen City of Charlotte. The fanbase isn’t only the amount of seats sold. Its the amount of merchandise sold across the state as people proudly rock the Red, Black, and White. That starts with a playoff berth. Sooner rather than later, or else all the other exciting marketable things about this team just become gimmicks.