It seems like just last week that I walked into a jam packed RBC Center
in Raleigh for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and was just blown away at the
atmosphere and excitement in the building. On Wednesday night I was
sucked right back into the hockey frenzy that is the home of the
'Caniacs and loved every minute of it. I just hope it lasts throughout
a long and grueling season.
A sold out crowd watched the Carolina Hurricanes play host to the
Buffalo Sabres in the 2006-07 regular season opener. Before the game
the 'Canes organization honored its champions by dropping two banners
from the rafters (2005-06 Southeast Division Championship and 2005-06
Eastern Conference Championship) and the raising of the coveted Stanley
Cup Championship banner high above the ice at the RBC Center. There was
just as much electricity in the air as there was in ANY of last years
playoff games. The action on the ice wasn't too bad either.
Carolina would end up losing 3-2 in an overtime shootout but it was a
hard fought game between two teams that pushed their Eastern Conference
Championship Series last year to seven games. Don't be surprised to see
Carolina and Buffalo back in the conference finals this season. Both
teams looked that good and although the 'Canes ended up on the losing
side of the ice, many of the players felt good about the direction of
this years team. "Obviously it would have been nice to get two points
but we got a point and it's a place for us to start, said Carolina
defenseman Mike Commodore. "I think it was a good start. For a first
game the new guys all played well and it's a place to build from."
The only thing discouraging about the game to me was the number of fans
that had already left the game by late in the second period well before
the outcome was decided. Granted, it was a Wednesday night but it was
also opening night with the NHL Commissioner and Lord Stanley's Cup in
I just hope that if the 'Canes get off to a sluggish start this season
we don't see a repeat of the 2002-03 season when you couldn't give away
tickets to a game. That was the season after Carolina advanced to the
Stanley Cup Finals the first time.
Only time will tell.