Tar Heel Fan

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Stanley Cup Finals Game 5 and Other Musings

The Carolina Hurricanes lead the best-of-seven series 3-1 with Game 5 tonight at the Big ATM(aka The RBC Center). This is a great scenario for the Canes, playing at home with a chance to clinch the Cup but is it also fraught with danger. Yes, 3-1 leads are commanding but I would venture to say that a 3-1 lead in hockey is probably the least commanding of the professional sports given the manner in which goals are scored. It would be real easy to lose this game and the have to go back to Edmonton for Game 6 where the odds of winning decrease in proportion to the increasing pressure. All of sudden you are looking at Game 7 and anything can happen then. The best bet is to wrap it up now. There must also be strong resistance to having this game feel like a coronation and a foregone conclusion. There have been rumblings that the fan base is getting ahead of itself which is not a good sign. However if the weather is a sign we are currently being rained upon from tropical depression Alberto so take that for what it's worth. NC State AD Lee Fowler has decided to begin the rehabilitation of his image following the basketball coaching search by coming out and essentially saying NC State fans at Wolfpack basketball games suck. Well, he did not say that but he did say this:

"It's kind of taken on what the college atmosphere's about and the fans have done a good job of giving that to the Hurricanes," Fowler said. "It would be great if we could get our fans to yell that way for 40 minutes because those fans were at a level I had never seen before."

Nice way to call your fans out there Lee! First of all the fan support has been great for the Canes and it has turned aside that annoying national media mentality that hockey would not catch on here. Though it should be said that I think it has been and will to some extent be a bandwagon team. My opinion is that Carolina is on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup so I would the fans would come out in droves and cheer passionately for them. If the Canes experience a downturn in the future I would expect the attendance to dwindle but I also think that if they win tonight it will do a lot to bring more permanant fans into the fold. Secondly, Fowler needs to understand that the key to having a rabid and passionate crowd is to win games, get ranked, hang some banners and stop being UNC and Duke's doormat. Wolfpack nation was as divided as a fan base could be over Herb Sendek who had a winning program but not one that was bringing the championship glory much less a very exciting brand of basketball. Couple that with the persistent losing to Duke and UNC(including a 24 point drubbing at RBC this past season that initiated a four game losing streak) then your fans are going to be less than inclined to bring the passion. Do you think the Cameron Crazies would be the Cameron Crazies unless Duke was winning the way they have won over the past 25 years? Win some games Lee and until that starts happening stay away from the media. And finally if the Canes do win the Cup tonight the question has been raised by one of the astute posters at the 850 the Buzz blog of whether this would be the biggest win in North Carolina sports history. The assertion was made that it would because the only other national championships won in this state have been the ten NCAA basketball titles(9 men, 1 women) by UNC, Duke, and NC State. Since each of those schools can only claim a fraction of the state's population then it is not a title that can be celebrated by all North Carolinians. I would agree with that and also add that the Stanley Cup is a more prestigious prize than the NCAA title plus it is a higher level championship because it comes from a major professional league. I also believe that the Carolina Hurricanes are truly a North Carolina professional team as opposed to the Charlotte Bobcats or Carolina Panthers who are really shared by both North and South Carolina because they are located on the border in Charlotte. The fact the Hurricanes play in the state capital make them very much a North Carolina team and if there is anything more telling it is the unity Wolfpack, Tar Heel, and Blue Devil fans have found in cheering the Canes on. The Stanley Cup is in Raleigh tonight, it is up to the Canes to make sure it stays there.

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