Well, it’s finally here; the NHL Eastern Conference finals. And, in an exact chain of events, the match up will be between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes. I’m a Pittsburgher - born and raised - and therefore, by definition, an unwavering Penguins fan. As luck would have it, life has me currently residing in the home of the ‘Canes,
I attended the very first Carolina Hurricanes home game. It was October 1997, and the Canes opened their inaugural season at the Greensboro Coliseum against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Stationed at
12 years does a lot for a team, and with the help of a Stanley Cup championship, the Canes have come into their own right as a serious hockey team, and – as a Raleighite for the past two years – I can honestly say their fans have come into their own as well. The handout at the first Canes game – along with the program – was a fold-out chart explaining the basic rules and the refs’ calls. Those first attendees didn’t know the difference between hooking and high-sticking, and explaining icing or – God help me – a two-line pass was an all-evening affair. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find a serious Hurricanes fan who can’t give you the stats of the leading goal scorers and assist men, not to mention his opinion on who belongs on whose line and the differences between the ways the Canes play the trap on each of their division rivals.
Tonight begins the NHL Eastern Conference finals (and how proud Mama Staal must be). While I can guarantee that none of my Penguins sweaters will be spending much time in the closet this series, I’ve also accepted the fact that my current circle of friends ensures I won’t be immersed in a