Crown the Carolina Hurricanes as the Kings of Entertainment in the NHL right now.
While this probably won’t go down well with Don Cherry, who will no doubt scream into his computer if he reads this, the Carolina Hurricanes know how to put on a show on and off the ice in the National Hockey League.
The Devils can have that accolade because they do kill it but, in my humble opinion, the Hurricanes are the most fun team in the entire NHL.
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And they entertain the masses in so many different ways.
From the famous Storm Surge to their vibrant social media accounts to their wholehearted embrace of the Hartford Whalers, the Carolina Hurricanes just know how to engage with their fans and the wider Carolina community.
As a result, they have transformed themselves from a so-so franchise mired in hockey wilderness into a relevant and fun organization that is a compelling team to watch on and off the ice.
I mean, let’s start with the widely popular Storm Surge – unless you are Don Cherry of course – which set hockey social media alight and put some much-needed fun back into the game.
Because, let’s be honest, the game of hockey and the NHL in particular can be a bit of a closed shop and the league’s best talents and brightest stars aren’t exactly dominating State Farm commercials like NFL stars Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers or Baker Mayfield.
As such, there is a clear disconnect between the NHL and its fans, particularly the younger generation who want to feel closer to the sport they love and also need a clear reason to stay engaged given all the distractions that come with living in a world dominated by technology and other social media platforms.
That’s why the decision by the players, namely former Captain Justin Williams, to invent a more fun way to salute the home crowd after a win and to mix it up rather than sticking to the traditional stick salute was pure genius.
While some felt it was corny, things like the Skol Viking Clap, the brilliant Duck Hunt, the salute to Carolina’s March Madness roots and the comical Gone Bowling celebrations were a brilliant way to engage the Hurricanes crowd, while attracting a fresh wave of young fans to Carolina games.
Far from being a big and vibrant hockey market, Carolina has to think outside of the box when it comes to attracting new and young fans through the doors, and the now-legendary Storm Surge celebrations, while short-lived, sparked a whole new level of interest in Hurricanes hockey and it also got people talking about the NHL, which is still way behind the NFL, the NBA and MLB when it comes to overall popularity.
In short, the Hurricanes created some much-needed buzz in Carolina around hockey and it went hand-in-hand with what the team are doing on the ice.
Led by their hard-nosed and uber-tough Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour, who captained the Canes to their last Stanley Cup triumph in 2005-06, Carolina boast an exciting, young core of high-end talent that has just exploded into life.
From Sebastian Aho to Dougie Hamilton to Teuvo Teravainen to Andrei Svechnikov, who puts a whole new level of meaning into fun with his Lacrosse-style goals, the Hurricanes are awash with young talent that will all reach the peak of their powers together and that is scary news for the rest of the NHL.
They are simply electric to watch on the ice, a perfectly put-together mesh of sublime skill, dazzling speed and gravity-defying talent, all resulting in a rapid and beautiful resurgence for this team and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018-19.
Basically, the Hurricanes are built for success and they are only going to develop and get better as a group, which is ideal because we all know that winning is the best kind of advertising for any franchise, so their on ice success will only help to fuel their considerable efforts away from the rink.
Let’s not discredit Carolina’s social media game, either. They bring it on Twitter in particular as good as anyone, mixing quick, witty humour with motivational messages, must-see highlights and behind-the-scenes content and their replies give the New Jersey Devils a serious run for their money.
Plus, “Positive Yet Petty” is a perfect way to describe the Carolina Hurricanes social media team. They just nail it time and time again.
But the jewell in the crown, the Arc de Triomphe if you like, is the dedication the franchise has to paying regular homage to the Hartford Whalers.
One of the most beautiful aspects of hockey, and being a fan of an NHL franchise, is that craving for nostalgia we all have and I think it is pretty fair to assume that most hockey fans would love for the Hartford Whalers to return.
While that probably isn’t feasible anytime soon, the Hurricanes do a stellar job of keeping the spirit of the Whalers alive by hosting an annual Whalers Night at PNC Arena, bringing back Brass Bonanza and those sublime jerseys.
So, it was perhaps fitting that for their Reverse Retro Jerseys, the Hurricanes opted to pay tribute to the Hartford Whalers once again with throwback jerseys that are just to die for.
I mean, if one found its way to me I wouldn’t complain. Hey, didn’t your parents teach you if you don’t ask you don’t get?!
Anyway, while I’m happy to agree with my colleague Matty Breisch that the New Jersey Devils own hockey Twitter, the Carolina Hurricanes own entertainment in the National Hockey League.
And that is just gospel, forget fact.
So, if you want a good time in 2020-21 and need a lifting of your spirits, tune in to the Carolina Hurricanes because they are the Kings of fun in the NHL right now.