Happy New Year, Canes fans. You may have noticed (at least, I hope you’ve noticed) that this fine website has been a little less active than usual. There’s good reason for that: the Canes have broken me. Not in a “I’m going on a rampage” kind of way, but more of a “I’m done here” way. I can’t speak for the entire 328 crew, but see below for why I’ve been AFK (hi, I’m old) for a while. 

Ever since this blog started back in 2012, the Carolina Hurricanes haven’t exactly been what you’d call “good.” Back then, we were coming out of a lockout, and while not everything about our fandom was new, there was both a combination of hope thanks to signing Alex Semin (see here for how THAT turned out) and the fact that I was new to writing about hockey. Thanks to the team treading water (#BuyTheMerch) for the past six seasons, I’ve all but run out of ways to say the same thing game after game and year after year. 

Canes Broken

See if you could definitively say which year any of these thoughts about the team apply to:

“The biggest question is who’s going to be our number one goalie.”

“If we can get a good winger for Staal, he can put up 50 points this year.”

“Our best player is on the wing. Maybe we can find a number one center to help out.”

“Can we get some additional scoring from the defense?”

“Maybe this year we can get league average goaltending.”

“Maybe this year we won’t struggle to score goals.”

“Maybe this year our powerplay won’t suck.”

“Maybe this year we won’t overslot a 3rd liner.”

“Maybe this year we won’t be out of the playoff hunt by January.”

Any of those sound familiar? Make you want to drink a beer? Bleach? One, please don’t do that; and two, can you say that any of those statements don’t apply to at least four of the last six seasons? I know I can’t, and it’s why I’ve been so quiet lately. I’ve run out of ways to describe 3-1 losses. I’ve run out of ways to talk about outshooting the opponent 42-27 and losing. I’ve hit the end of ways to say that only two or three forwards on this team are worth a damn. I can’t think of more ways to say our power play is a dumpster fire. I’ve reached my limit on ways to ponder whether it’s the front office or the bench boss who’s more to blame for being 12 points out of the playoffs in January. When this team wins six of eight in February or March if for no other reason than to tease the fans, I will have already written about and fallen for that trick.

Save for Aho, Svech, and the Storm Surge, this team has all but sucked the fandom out of me. The scary part is I’m not alone. I’ve heard comments from several STM of at least 15 years who almost NEVER leave games early or miss games who have voluntarily done both this year. They simply don’t care any more. They’ve seen this movie too many times and just want a new flick.

I don’t suddenly expect this team to contend for the Cup, but with a new owner, GM by committee, coaching staff, and around 10 players who weren’t full-time in Raleigh last year on this roster, I expected different results. Not necessarily better (I hoped they would be), but just something different. The way this team played during their 4-1-1 start was exciting and fun. The way this team lost 6-5 to the Capitals last month was at least enjoyable. 

Here’s what I ask of this team: Don’t stick to “the plan” or whatever it is that Brind’Amour is saying in every postgame presser. Don’t talk about how much confidence is still in the locker room despite every L in the standings saying the opposite. Stop putting square pegs in round holes. Figure out why every top-six forward you trade away is IMMEDIATELY better in their new home. Do something crazy like put your best three forwards (especially when one is a center and two are wingers) on the same line and LEAVE THEM THERE FOR MULTIPLE GAMES. Play to your players strengths and not hold them back because of their weaknesses. 

SHOW ME SOMETHING NEW! I miss writing about this team on a more regular basis. I miss reading what Mr. Workrate has to say about transactions and other musings in well over 3,000 words. I hope to read more about fandom because fandom is alive and well from Meg. I want to see who Cane_Alytics has determined Found The Jam™. I look forward to learning more about hockey strategy and why a player/group is thriving or struggling from Pat. I want to enjoy Hannah’s enthusiasm for this team. I need some Puckin’ Sunshine from JC. I could use the whimsy of Dan comparing the 328 staff or the Canes to video game characters or something else totally unexpected. Maybe I need an impassioned plea from Mike about literally anything. Most of all, I need this team to do something different or else all my other wishes are moot.