The Carolina Hurricanes are determined that all that attention the state of North Carolina receives this time of year will no longer be reserved for Blue Devils or Tar Heels basketball.
This season, the Canes have turned their postgame ritual into something that resembles the intersection of an NFL end zone celebration and an elementary school playground.
After every win on home ice (16 so far this season), the Hurricanes have given their devoted fans, the "Caniacs," reason to stick around for the third period and beyond with some sort of choreographed postgame skit.
Here's just a few of their greatest hits from this season:
The limbo …
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The knock-it-out-of-the-park home run trot …
Duck, duck, goose ...
These pre-meditated antics have driven hockey purists and traditionalists to the point of coming down with HDS, or Hurricane Derangement Syndrome. Those who have been around the game for years are completely beside themselves and feel this is merely a travesty to their beloved sport.
That feeling couldn't have been articulated more strongly than by Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry, who went on a minute-long rant Saturday calling the players "jerks" for their behavior. Check it out here:
Off-air, Cherry may be one of the nicest, most pleasant guys you will meet. But even the brash, outspoken 85-year-old hockey icon can see the utter hypocrisy to which he describes. I suppose only Cherry is permitted to be flamboyant or even obnoxious while calling attention to himself for his outrageous appearance. Shame to anyone else who steps outside those boundaries.
The Hurricanes wasted little time to profit off an opportunity that fell right into their laps this weekend, and I'm guessing there will be a backorder for this shirt in the next 24-48 hours.
My feeling is that as long as it's in good taste, anything that grabs the attention of the sports world even for a couple of minutes is good for the game.
There aren't very many hockey markets where you can pull this off. Toronto, Montreal? No way. New York, Boston? Are you kidding?
But what does Raleigh, North Carolina, have to lose? The franchise has missed the postseason for nine straight seasons and their attendance has been at the bottom for the past five years. The Hurricanes have given fans a reason not to come since winning a Stanley Cup in 2006.
For a league that is a distant fourth when it comes to the Big 4, the publicity that comes from these celebrations can only draw in fans that may not have been attracted to the sport previously.
Now, the team is knocking on the door of their first playoff berth since 2008-09. I commend head coach Rod Brind'Amour and captain Justin Williams for bringing a little bit of fun to the team while knowing they would receive plenty of heat outside their dressing room.
Sometimes you have to think a little differently when you're fighting for revenue shares in a very competitive sports world.
Like unveiling a big, orange, oversized googly-eyed mascot that everyone seemed to hate when it first rolled out.
Take that to your jerk store.
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