Voting for the 2nd round games for the ‘Founding Fathers’ and ‘Unsung Heroes’ regionals’ will kick off at 11:30am on Friday, September 4. If you are here before then, please check back.
The matchups and bios for those games is at the bottom, below the 1st round recap that follows.
In the ‘Founding Fathers’ regional, as expected players with ties to the magical 2002 playoff run that put hockey on the map in Raleigh dominated the first round. Goalie Kevin Weekes and forwards Sami Kapanen and Josef Vasicek joined Ron Francis, Arturs Irbe and Jeff O’Neill who were already waiting in the second round with byes.
Kevin Dineen squeaked by Sean Hill in one of the closest first-round games, and Gary Roberts as a #12 seed proved to be a bracket buster when he defeated #5 seed Keith Primeau handily. Looks like Canes fans never forgave and forgot his contract holdout in the 1999-00 season that ultimately led to his trade for Rod Brind’Amour. Dineen and Roberts see each other in the second round which means at least one of the players who saw the Greensboro era but never Raleigh will represent that group in the Sweet 16.
Josef Vasicek as a #11 and Gary Roberts as a #12 seed were the two biggest upsets at least per the seedings.
The ‘Unsung Heroes’ regional featured multiple wild card matches. Peter Laviolette bested Paul Maurice in a coaches’ matchup. Jesse Boulerice won a four-player battle royale to claim the title of favorite ‘enforcer’ and advance to the second round. And John Forslund defeated Chuck Kaiton to win a broadcasters’ matchup. The other two winners, Bret Hedican and Kevyn Adams, leveraged their role on both the 2002 and 2006 playoff runs to advance to the second round.
Except a minor upset with Forslund as a #10 seed over Chuck Kaiton at #7, the bracket was straight chalk with the higher seed winning all of the other matchups. Waiting in the second round with first round byes are Glen Wesley, Aaron Ward and Ray Whitney.
The ‘Cup Core’ regional featured arguably the biggest upset in the tourney thus far. Using a late night Twitter request to his 57,000 and the mojo of his lucky robe, #13 seed Mike Commodore overtook #4 seed Cory Stillman who is Twitterless and went on to win going away in stunning fashion. The rest of the bracket saw Mark Recchi win a wild card matchup of trade reinforcements over Doug Weight and also saw Matt Cullen, Niclas Wallin and Chad LaRose advance.
Chad LaRose’s narrow win over Andrew Ladd who was only with the Canes briefly was surprising to me, but as they say at tourney time – it is about surviving and advancing, not score. As you would expect from a bracket focused on the Stanley Cup team, this bracket is completely stacked and only gets stronger when first round byes Justin Williams, Erik Cole and Rod Brind’Amour enter the mix in the second round.
Finally, the ‘Current Generation’ regional featured an eclectic mix of stars from the 2009 playoff run and current players who could be championship contenders when we launch the 10-year anniversary bracket event in 2025. Still standing after the first round are two current Canes players in Elias Lindholm and Justin Faulk, two 2009 playoff blue line heroes in Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason and the winner of the ‘battle of Finland’ Tuomo Ruutu. The match that pitted 2009 favorites and countrymen Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen against each other was arguably the best matchup of the entire first round. The two traded leads and were never more than a couple votes apart before Ruutu finally pulled it out in the final minutes.
The regional ultimately saw all of the higher seeds advance to join the trio of current stars Eric Staal, Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner who had byes into the second round.
With that, we move to the second round for the Founding Fathers and Unsung Heroes brackets. If Mike Commodore’s bracket-busting first round upset is any indicator, the potential exists for social media to play a role in upsetting the logical order and seedings. All of Aaron Ward, Kevin Weekes and Jeff O’Neill have HUGE follower bases from their prominent roles in the hockey media. Any of the three could be one tweet away from a voting explosion and runaway victory.
Aside from the Twitter wild card, multiple second round matchups are intriguing. It is hard to say what fans will do with a coach versus player matchup in Peter Laviolette versus Glen Wesley and an ever odder broadcaster versus player matchup in John Forslund versus Ray Whitney. I figure Tripp Tracy finally joins Twitter to exact his revenge on Whitney for all of those photo bombs during the pre-game interviews, but that is just wild speculation. The second round also pulls some true icons into the mix when two of the three PNC Arena rafter residents Ron Francis and Glen Wesley join and early 2000 heroes and favorites Jeff O’Neill, Aaron Ward and Arturs Irbe also join.
Here are the matchups for the first eight games of the second round (other eight will launch once these conclude):
Founding Fathers 2nd round
Unsung Heroes 2nd round