Throughout the year, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the National Hockey League (NHL), discovering the best and worst each team has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also feature a drink based off the franchise. Today, we look in on the Carolina Hurricanes, mindful of their past and with an eye (of the storm) towards their future:
Establishment Story: What is now the Carolina Hurricanes, began life as the New England Whalers in the defunct World Hockey Association (WHA). When the team was one of four WHA clubs to merge with the NHL in 1979, they became the Hartford Whalers (having moved from Boston to Hartford in 1974). In 1997, the Whalers relocated to North Carolina, becoming the Hurricanes.
Stanley Cups: The Hurricanes have reached hockey’s pinnacle once in their history, winning the Stanley Cup in 2006. This would be North Carolina’s first ever major professional title. They also appeared in one other Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Detroit Red Wings in 2002. As the New England Whalers in the WHA, the franchise was the inaugural Avco Cup winner in 1973.
Celebrity Fan: Stephen Colbert, who was born in South Carolina, has featured the Hurricanes on his various talk shows. In 2006, following the Hurricanes Stanley Cup victory, Colbert declared “Canes Rule” during the signoff of an episode of The Colbert Report. Years later, he invited David Ayers (more on him below) onto the The Tonight Show, following his heroics for the team.
Super Fan: One of the most notable Caniacs is Emma Izzo, who gained the attention of fellow Carolina supporters in 2021, when it was pointed out on social media that the Hurricanes won every game she attended. Over $10,000 was raised to provide Izzo, who was born with Down syndrome, and her family with season tickets and she has become the team’s Good Luck Ambassador.
Mascot: Stormy the Ice Hog wears jersey number 97, for the year the Hurricanes came into existence. A pig was selected thanks to the numerous hog farms found throughout North Carolina. Stormy’s favourite book is Charlotte’s Web, while his preferred movie is Wild Hogs. The Hartford Whalers had two mascots before the team relocated: Pucky the Whale (logo on WHA jerseys) and Wally the Whaler.
Tradition: For the 2018-19 season, the Hurricanes celebrated home wins with elaborate routines, which were dubbed a Storm Surge. Sequences included the team acting like a line of falling dominoes and captain Justin Williams bowling his helmet at his teammate pins. Another element from the franchise’s history is Brass Bonanza, the official theme song of the Whalers, which has been revived by the Hurricanes for throwback nights.
Appearances in Media: The Whalers have maintained a substantial fan base, despite moving to Carolina a quarter of a century ago. Many argue the Whalers logo is one of the greatest ever created and even Adam Sandler wears a Hartford t-shirt in the movie Grown Ups, during the scene where the stars attend a waterslide park. The 2008 documentary Bleeding Green looks at some of these remaining Whalers fans and their desire for the team to return.
Events/Scandals: In the early morning hours of March 24, 1994, six Whalers players and two assistant coaches were arrested after refusing to leave a Buffalo, New York nightclub. The players included Marc Potvin, Pat Verbeek, Mark Janssen, Todd Harkins, Geoff Sanderson, and Chris Pronger, who was only 19 at the time, below the legal drinking age in the U.S. Charges ranged from disorderly conduct to trespassing.
Rivalry: The Whalers had a geographic feud with the Boston Bruins, prior to their relocation. As for the Hurricanes, their greatest rival may be the Washington Capitals, as they have shared divisions almost the entire time the team has been located in Carolina. The Hurricanes also had a grudge with the Montreal Canadiens, who signed Carolina forward Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet in 2019. In retaliation, the Hurricanes signed Montreal youngster Jesperi Kotkaniemi the next off-season to an offer sheet of their own.
Tragedy: On May 3, 1999, following a year-end team party, defenseman Steve Chiasson was killed in a single-vehicle car accident. Chiasson was driving while under the influence. In response, the Hurricanes have awarded the Steve Chiasson Award to the player who “best demonstrates leadership, perseverance, determination and dedication.” Chiasson’s number 3 has also been taken out of circulation by the team.
Player Nicknames: While the majority of folks enjoyed the Hurricanes’ Storm Surge celebrations, Hockey Night in Canada pundit Don Cherry did not. Cherry went so far as to call the Hurricanes a “bunch of jerks”. The Hurricanes responded in the best way possible, embracing the Bunch of Jerks designation, projecting it onto their home ice and also producing t-shirts with the message.
Line: Two memorable Hurricanes lines, include the CVS Line of Andrew Cassels, Pat Verbeek and Geoff Sanderson, and the BBC Line of Bates Battaglia, Rod Brind’Amour and Erik Cole. The CVS line was a play on the pharmacy chain, while the BBC Line is a reference to the news network… or at least I hope it’s that and not referring to the naughty version of that acronym.
Captain: Ron Francis had two separate stints as team captain of the franchise, one with the Whalers from 1985-1991 and the other with the Hurricanes from 1999 to 2004. Both reigns ended with Francis being traded, to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. Other notable leaders of the club, include Rod Brind’Amour, Eric Staal and Jordan Staal.
Enforcer: Kevin Dineen holds the Whalers/Hurricanes record for career penalty minutes at 1,439, playing 708 games with the franchise over two stints. Close behind him, is Torrie Robertson with 1,368. Robertson also holds the record for penalty minutes in a season at 358. Over six and a half campaigns with the Whalers, Robertson recorded three of the top four penalty minute seasons in franchise history.
Family Values: A number of family relations have played together with the Whalers/Hurricanes. Most notably, three of the four Staal brothers (Eric, Jordan and Jared) suited up together with the Hurricanes (albeit for only two games), while the legendary Gordie Howe was able to play with his sons Mark and Marty, as members of the Whalers, for Gordie’s final NHL season.
Returning Players: Sandwiched around his tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ron Francis was a member of the Whalers for 10 seasons to begin his NHL career and the Hurricanes for the final six seasons as an active player (retiring after a brief run with the Toronto Maple Leafs, as a trade deadline rental). Francis still holds the franchise records for games played, goals, assists and points. He was also a Hurricanes executive from 2011 to 2018.
Short Stint: Hall of Fame forward Bobby Hull played the final nine games of his career with the Whalers. He was traded to Hartford from the Winnipeg Jets during the 1979-80 season, joining fellow legend Gordie Howe, who would also retire after the season. Other Hall of Fame inductees to have brief tenures with the franchise were Paul Coffey and Mark Recchi, who played 20 games each with the franchise.
Undrafted: Chad LaRose worked his way through the minor leagues, before becoming a fan favourite with the Hurricanes, even being a member of their 2006 Stanley Cup-winning squad. LaRose was signed by the Hurricanes in 2003, making his NHL debut during the 2005-06 season. He would spend his entire eight-season NHL career with Carolina, providing 85 goals and 180 points in 508 games.
Trade: Rod Brind’Amour was the main return piece when the Hurricanes were forced to trade Keith Primeau to the Philadelphia Flyers. Brind’Amour, nicknamed Rod the Bod for his workout regimen and impressive physique, would go on to become captain of the team and lead them to the 2006 Stanley Cup. Brind’Amour would finish the rest of his career in Carolina (retiring in 2010) and today, he leads them in a different capacity, as head coach since 2018-19.
Signing: Another key addition to the Hurricanes 2006 Stanley Cup team was brining in Ray Whitney in August 2005. Nicknamed The Wizard for his playmaking abilities, Whitney recorded 334 points in 342 games. Signed just days before Whitney, Cory Stillman didn’t have the regular season numbers Whitney did with Carolina, but he did provide 26 points in 25 games during the 2006 playoffs.
Draft Pick: The Hartford/Carolina franchise has done very well with the second overall choice in drafts. At this spot, they managed to snag Chris Pronger (1993), Eric Staal (2003) and Andrei Svechnikov (2018). Perhaps their only blemish with selecting second was taking Sylvain Turgeon (1983), rather than future Hall of Famers Pat LaFontaine, Steve Yzerman and Cam Neely. It should also be noted, the team hit a homerun picking Ron Francis fourth overall in 1981.
Holdouts: Hurricanes captain Keith Primeau missed half of the 1999-2000 season, sitting out over a contract dispute. The impasse ended when Primeau was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers with a 2000 fifth-round draft pick, in exchange for Rod Brind’Amour, Jean-Marc Pelletier and a 2000 second-round draft pick. A previous deal to send Primeau to the Phoenix Coyotes for Keith Tkachuk was vetoed by then owner Peter Karmanos.
Buyouts: In 2015, after recording only six goals and 19 points over the previous campaign, the Hurricanes bought out Alexander Semin’s five-year, $35 million contract, with three years remaining. This put them on the hook to pay Semin $14 million over the next six years. Semin would join the Montreal Canadiens, playing only 15 games, before he was waived. When Semin refused to report to the minor league affiliate, his contract was terminated and he returned to Russia.
Unique Game: For the 2010 NHL Premiere, the Hurricanes played two games versus the Minnesota Wild in Helsinki, Finland, winning both. As part of that tour, they also played an exhibition contest against SKA Saint Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League, losing 5-3. Carolina also hosted the 2023 Stadium Series match versus the Washington Capitals, winning on home ice.
Goal: A far as important tallies in franchise history go, you can’t really top Stanley Cup game winning and empty net insurance markers. Frantisek Kaberle’s power play goal in the second period of Game 7 versus the Edmonton Oilers would prove to be the game winner and when Justin Williams added an empty netter late in the third period, the celebration was officially on in Raleigh.
Fight/Brawl: During an April 7, 1997 game for Hartford against the Buffalo Sabres, a scrum began after a whistle. Keith Primeau grabbed the closest player to him and both men dropped their gloves. That’s a pretty typical hockey story, but what made it unique, is the opposing combatant was Wayne Primeau, Keith’s younger brother. Following the fight, Keith called his parents to apologize for what had occurred.
Injury: On December 27, 1980, Mark Howe slid into the net, impaling himself on the sharp metal point at the center of nets during this era. A long gash occurred on his upper thigh, nearly ending his career, as he lost 21 pounds, while having to go on a liquid diet to avoid any intestinal infections. Howe sued the NHL, resulting in nets being redesigned to remove the center point.
Penalty: Defenseman Russ Anderson was slapped with a six-game suspension in 1983, after hitting Dave Taylor of the Los Angeles Kings with his stick. In another stick swinging incident, Keith Primeau received a two-game ban in 1997 for slashing Joe Juneau of the Washington Capitals in the back, causing a severe hematoma between Juneau’s shoulder blade and spine. Primeau was back to game action before Juneau was able to return.
Wildest Story: On February 22, 2020, Zamboni driver David Ayres stepped in as the Hurricanes emergency backup goalie (EBUG) against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team that employed him. Ayres allowed goals on the first two shots he faced, before stopping the next eight attempts, helping the Hurricanes to a 6-3 victory. Ayres became the first EBUG to win an NHL game and the triumphant story is being developed into a feature film.
Blooper: On March 22, 2018, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski dumped the puck into the Hurricanes zone. Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward came out of the net to play the puck, then returned to his crease. Only the puck had become lodged in Ward’s skate and when he backed into the net, the puck went with him, resulting in a goal being credited to Goligoski. The Hurricanes eventually won the game, bringing relief to Ward for his error.
Miscellaneous: Two interesting NHL stats belong to Hurricanes folklore. First, Neil Sheehy was the last NHL player to wear jersey number 0, when he did so with the Whalers in 1988. He was forced to change his number due to a glitch with the NHL’s stat-tracking computer software. Second, Erik Cole was the first NHL player to be awarded two penalty shots in one game, during a November 2005 contest versus the Buffalo Sabres. He scored on the first attempt, but not the second.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Storm Surge
- 1 oz Rum
- 1 oz Gin
- 0.5 oz Peach Schnapps
- Top with Fruit Punch
- Garnish with a Cucumber Slice
I chose one of the recipes created by the Cardiac Cane blog, using Cat5, the official beverage of the Hurricanes. The drink is fruit punch flavoured, so I’ve altered my version accordingly. I used a slice of cucumber for garnish, as I thought the green provided an homage to the Whalers, while its appearance was like the eye of a hurricane.