It's always weird seeing big name players in their new sweaters after they've been traded. I remember the initial shock of seeing Gretzky in a Blues jersey, then a Rangers. It just doesn't feel right. The impact of trades hit harder when I was a kid. I hadn't seen much of the annual trade deadline carousel of stars and, in my head, there were strong, unbreakable links between the captains and their teams. My most jarring cases of "new jersey shock" came when Ray Bourque swapped the black and gold for the Colorado Bigfoot, and when Mark Messier left New York for Vancouver. They were both captains, likely the first person most people thought of when thinking of their respective teams, and, perhaps most importantly, devoted to their longtime teams. Of course time does its thing, heals all wounds, and washes those feelings away and things like Ron Francis in a Leafs' jersey begin to make sense. Okay, maybe not that last part.Obviously, I now have a new trade to add to the list. We all do. Our captain has gone to New York to wear the blue shirt that so many mid-to-late career NHL stars seem to do. Most people knew a Eric Staal trade was likely and even expected it.What I didn't expect was how it made me feel. Without much hyperbole I can easily say I don't think a NHL trade has ever affected me in such a way.Not even recent trades of some of my favorite Canes players, John Michael Liles or Andrej Sekera, come close. After Eric got dealt I was pretty bummed out, maybe a little shell shocked that the BIG move had FINALLY happened, and *cough* perhaps even a bit weepy. Over the last week or so, while trying to reconcile why the trade had jacked me up so much, I came to one certain conclusion: I had taken Eric Staal for granted. Read More
One of the most interesting aspects of Carolina Hurricanes Casino Night are the player baskets. Every year, players and coaches fill up baskets with some of their favorite items, autographed swag, and perhaps opportunities to spend time with them. Despite the approximate retail value of the items, they tend to be auctioned off for well into 4 figures, which is great, as they all benefit the Kids 'N Community Foundation.We were shocked when the Canes asked the Section328 crew to put together some baskets for this weekends Casino Night. While we are sure that none of these will actually receive a bid (or even exist in real life), it was fun pulling them together.The Flanagan Basket:A copy of Too Fat To Fish autographed by author Artie Lange because every fat guy needs inspiration that there is someone out there worse off than him.
One year's supply of Ricola lozenges to coat your throat from trying to keep up with Mike talking so much
Bomber of Evil Twin Brewing Even More Jesus because beer is a religion in 328
PS4 controller w/ the sticks chewed off by a puppy signed by Derek Roessler. It shows the frustration in trying to beat Derek in NHL 15 or 16
Copy of NHL16 for XBoxOne signed by Steve Halko, because Flanagan can never score either.
Two tickets to sit in Section 328 because, I mean, c’mon… it’s awesome
A ticket to the 328 Season Opening tailgate and a bye in the first round of the 328 Annual Cornhole Tourney. Includes tutoring session by none other than the World Champs of the World Team of Mike and Derek prior to the tailgate.
One coupon to have Mike come to your work and loudly berate your most hated co-worker for 15 mins Read More
The 2016 NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, and while the names leaving the Hurricanes are familiar, the players coming back to the organization may not be. Let's take a look.Aleksi SaarelaPosition: center
How Acquired: from the New York Rangers in the Eric Staal deal
Drafted: 3rd round (89th overall), 2015 NHL Draft
Current Level: Liiga (highest professional level in Finland)
Current contract status: unsignedSaarela had been considered a strong prospect, potentially even a first round selection, but injuries and a weak 2014-15 season in Finland's Liiga (12 points in 51 games) dropped his draft stock. Saarela's play in Finland has improved greatly this season (19 goals, 32 points in 47 games) and his play in the U20 World Juniors (with fellow Canes prospect Sebastian Aho) earned him a gold medal. Read More
Gameday.After a fairly sedate Saturday, I got a decent night's sleep and woke up around 9am Sunday. The realization set in almost immediately - I was going to hit the ice and play a hockey game with real NHL players in just a few hours. Now, I've been performing in front of crowds for quite a while: Nearly 18 years at ComedySportz, a few years at GOUGE wrestling, NC State Hockey, and the Canes PA gig this year. Plus all of the public speaking stuff I did in school. I'm generally pretty even-keel before an event. But Sunday morning, I could barely eat any of the pancake breakfast that my wife fixed. At the point where she exclaimed "Would you stop pacing around the house?!?!", I realized that it was time to pack my bag and head out.Arriving at PNC Arena, I got the treat of parking in the player's lot behind the security gate. That made for a shorter trip with the bag and stick into the arena, then a right-hand turn down the hall into the Hurricanes locker room. As Doug Warf had tweeted out earlier in the day, my locker stall was ready and waiting.https://twitter.com/dougwarf/status/698895216896536577#42 - Serious businessTurns out my spot was the third down as you walk in the door. Goalie Wendy Thomas was in the first stall (the other #42 on Team White), and I was sandwiched between Nic Wallin and Bret Hedican.Yup. Just got real. Read More
I took the day off work on Friday.That's kind of a big deal - I'm an employee of a small startup hustling to get some product out, so this was actually the first day off I'd taken since I joined the company in October. But with a full day of events planned, I was going to get my money's worth. With my hockey gear packed the night before, I set out around 9am for the PNC Arena.We were able to park in the North lot, right outside the security gate, making for a fairly quick trip with the gear bag into the side room at ice level that was functioning as a temporary locker room. Stash the gear, sign the waivers, and look around for any familiar faces. I didn't recognize too many, this being my first fantasy game in a room with quite a few veterans. I did recognize Jeff Wing, assistant coach for the NC State hockey team, and Paul Lawson, all the way in from Scotland.I ended up sitting next to Wendy Thomas, the only woman to play in the game, during the Hurricanes' morning skate. Apparently her husband and I were at Red Hat at the same time. That bit of nerdy trivia would come into play later.For the morning skate, Justin Faulk came out and skated on his own for a bit. He was moving pretty slowly, unfortunately, which didn't give me a great feeling about his availability for the night's game. He left the ice before practice really got started. Coach Peters worked the guys for about a half-hour or so through a nicely-paced workout, then left the healthy scratches to get a little bit of extra work in. Read More
"Hey, Chris, uh, do you need me to announce the alumni fantasy game?""Nope, we're covered. You can take that game off."With that, the wheels started turning.Let me back up a bit, by way of introduction. I'm Wade. Some folks may know me (or my voice) as the surprise selection for the new public address announcer at PNC Arena (I was as surprised as anyone). My day job is as a technology executive/programmer/sysadmin for a local internet startup. But what's relevant to this article is that I'm a Hurricanes fan. I started following hockey while in college at William & Mary, where my friends were almost universally both from Northern Virginia and Capitals fans. But I moved to Raleigh in February of 1999, just before the Canes left Greensboro for their new home. After attending the first game at the then-ESA, I fell in love with the sport and the team. I've been a regular in Section 328 for quite a while.Hipster Cred - I haz it.I also picked up playing adult hockey about a decade or so ago. As I tend to physically match most of the stereotypes of computer nerds, I'm not the most athletic guy in the world. My last foray into any sort of competitive sport was a season of Babe Ruth baseball when I was 16. My career ended with one hit, one run scored, and I missed the only game our team won that year. Yeah. And growing up in the middle of nowhere in Southside Virginia, the only place you'd see a hockey jersey was when the one new kid who had lived in the city wanted to show off by wearing one. Hockey was that thing you might pass briefly by on ESPN, watch five minutes, get confused, and move on. But after seeing the Canes storm the crease like bumblebees for a few years, I got the itch. Even my wife (who grew up in the same town, and joined me in Raleigh saying "Hockey is stupid, why would I want to go to a hockey game?") was hooked after seeing about three games in person. Read More
Making season predictions is a time honored tradition in sports. Getting them laughably wrong is equally common. To see just how right or wrong we are to this point, I went back to the season preview episode of Cheaters Never Win and took notes of Mike's and my predictions for the 2015-16 season.As of today, some could still be right. Others... oh boy... others are way the hell off. We picked full order for the Metro division, and only picked division winners for other divisions. Read More
Winning teams buy. Losing teams sell. Those teams in the middle? A lot can be learned about their direction by watching their movement at the trade deadline. All too often in recent seasons, the Carolina Hurricanes under Polonius Rutherford operated under the principle of "neither a buyer nor a seller be", seemingly afraid to sell off any good pieces of a team that almost maybe possibly was so so so close to the playoffs, but at the same time not willing to make the bigger move by mortgaging the future for that one player that might secure that playoff spot (or, realistically, not having the prospects to pull it off.)Under Ron Francis last season, the team ripped off the Band-A adhesive bandage and went into full-blown seller mode, dealing off free agents to be Andrej Sekera, Jiri Tlusty, and Tim Gleason for four draft picks, a good defensive prospect in Roland McKeown, and human being Jack Hillen. But those trades were simple - the Canes in mid February were closer to the #1 overall pick than they were to the playoffs. This season is different, for several reasons. Last season's free agents to be were a good defenseman who spent a year and a half with the team, a popular third liner, and a reclamation project whose best days as a Cane were behind him. This season, it's two guys who helped raise the Stanley Cup for the Hurricanes in 2006, and two of the biggest faces of the franchise - if not potentially the biggest. Add that to a team that hasn't been to the playoffs in six seasons and is going in the "right direction" - if the team continues to push for the playoffs the closer it gets to the trade deadline, it's going to make it harder and harder to sell.But you didn't come for that. You came for wagering*. You want to know whether or not your favorite player is going to be around for Canes Casino Night (since it takes place after the trade deadline this year, meaning no drunken last goodbyes and inadvertent slips of potential trade destinations). You want to know whether or not you should invest in that $35 shirtsey. You need to know FACTS about ABSOLUTELY** what's going to happen to your favorite players!I can do that.[*please, no wagering]
[**yeah, I'm totally guessing - like you know better.] Read More
Nothing says a great edition of Cheaters Never Win like having two guests who know their stick and puck. We kick off the guests w/ former NHL’er Patrick O’Sullivan talking about a player’s view of the trade deadline and his thoughts on the Canes. Read More
You know every late-April or May when you miss the Canes, but have to watch playoff hockey because it's, ya know, playoff hockey. You've got your bracket filled out and want to check in on hopeful bragging rights. You inevitably watch some Eastern match-up, maybe it's the annual Rangers/Capitals seven game series, or maybe the latest Pittsburgh collapse. We all do. We all soak in these series that only get 3-5 goals a game and it's thrilling, nerve-wracking, and intensly fun. Although Pittsburgh media often blames the death of exciting hockey on whoever knocks them out of the playoffs, they're wrong. Playoff hockey is the best of all sports. We all know this. It is known.The Canes have been floating around hockey .500 lately and compiling a winning record more oft than not. There are whisperings of the playoffs, of a chance to actually watch OUR team in them. Whether or not we make the playoffs, this season is a success that rests on the back of a wonderfully talented young defense with an uncanny ability to suppress the opponent's shot attempts, shots on goal, and scoring chances. We've got a long road ahead, but for us in North Carolina, it's late April now.Super suppression bros.What I'm getting at here is that the Hurricanes are quietly learning how to play playoff hockey. Limiting the opponent is the way to grinding out playoff series wins. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we're ready. We need more finish, consistent goaltending, some luck, and some dynamic offensive talent wouldn't hurt. But our guys have got the suppression thing down and it's beautiful. Read More