The Carolina Hurricanes have come a long way since their inaugural Pride Night back in 2017. However, this year may have been their best year yet. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.
Since the season is on pause for now, I wanted to take the chance to look back on my favorite, and arguably the most controversial, theme night. Alison Lukan, 1/3 of the Too Many Men podcast trio, said that the Hurricanes “indisputably,” won with their Pride Night, and I’m inclined to agree with her on that.
They did a lot of good things this year, to the point that I had people texting me to tell me that they were impressed–let’s look back at them.
To start out the night, Shane Willis interviewed J. Clapp, the Executive Director of the LGBTQ Center in Durham. They were then honored as the Lenovo Hero of the Game later for all the work they’ve done with Durham’s Pride celebration and the LGBTQ+ community. They had a wonderful story to tell, and I’m glad that they were included.
The ceremonial puck drop was done by Kori Hennessey, who is the Director of Education and Programs at the LGBT Center of Raleigh.
Then, all of the siren sounders had a connection to the LGBTQ+ community, which was very cool. Billy Taurig, Senior VP and general counsel for the Canes, sounded the siren before the game. The second siren sounder was Dylan Smith, a senior at NC State, who has participated in every Canes Pride Night, is involved with the GLBT Center on State’s campus, which does great stuff.
Finally, Cathy Oakley, a member of the Triangle’s Human Rights Campaign chapter, was the last siren sounder.
Like they have in years past, they had Pride Night mystery pucks and warm-up pucks available for sale, with proceeds benefiting the Carolina Hurricanes Foundation.
Finally, as you walked up to the Arena, the exterior was lit up like a rainbow.
Another detail that I thought the Hurricanes did really well was donating money to local LGBTQ+ organizations. Money from the in-game auction, as well as a portion of the money from the scarf ticket package was donated.
The organizations that benefited from the donations were Equality NC, the LGBT Center of Raleigh, and the GLBT Center at NC State. Those organizations were represented that night through tabling on the concourse.
Also, they auctioned off the players’ Pride-taped sticks through the NHL’s auction platform, with proceeds going to You Can Play.
Throughout the day leading up to the game, the Hurricanes were active on Twitter—both with fans, and some haters. Anybody who’s ever interacted with the Canes’ Twitter knows that they are always on top of their game, but I felt like they did an especially good job that day.
Alison Lukan once again has the perfect sum-up: “What I really loved about it was it was confirming, like, that the message of ‘Hockey is for Everyone,’ and this is that we are proud to have everyone here, was, like, pervasive through everything that they tweeted.”
They asked for fans to share what Pride Night means to them—and interacted with most if not every person who shared—all the while snapping back gracefully at those who were being less than supportive.
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There was one instance where a guy responded to one of their tweets with a bunch of bible verses, and they responded back with “dude we are a hockey twitter account you think we know what any of those are?” Unfortunately—or fortunately—bible verse dude’s tweet is gone, or else I would’ve shared it here.
My point in writing this article is to draw attention to just how much detail the Hurricanes went into for Pride Night—a night that often doesn’t get much thought or effort. Or any, in one case.
They clearly wanted to make everyone feel welcomed—southern hospitality, if you will—and say loud and clear that Carolina Hurricanes Hockey is for everyone. Coming from a team in the southeast, that’s pretty good.
Question for CC Readers: What was your favorite thing that the Hurricanes did for Pride Night?