“Bunch of jerks”
On Saturday, the Hurricanes continued their winning ways and in the process climbed up into playoff position.
But the biggest buzz around Saturday’s game came afterward and came ironically not from the outcome of the game or the place in the standings. The greatest buzz came instead from the latest northern criticism of the team’s Storm Surge. Don Cherry from Hockey Night in Canada went on a mini-tirade with the money quote being “Bunch of Jerks”. That slogan has since become a rallying cry for the Caniac Nation’s uniqueness and is now available in t-shirt form from the Hurricanes (though they are already sold out and will need to restock).
The Storm Surge itself and the commotion around it maybe even more so are much-deserved fun for loyal Caniacs who have had to weather some lean times in recent years. And the uniqueness will no doubt weave its way into the fabric of Carolina Hurricanes hockey culture as yet another example of doing it our own way.
The early days and foundations of Hurricanes hockey culture
For me, the whole situation hearkens back to the early days of the franchise in North Carolina. When the team first arrived, it was adopted by some northern transplants who grew up with NHL hockey. But from the beginning and even more so during the early success in the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons, the team was adopted by many fans who did not grow up watching NHL hockey.
The fan base developed from scratch with a huge component that was new to NHL hockey. That unique genesis of a fan base played directly into building the foundation of the team’s culture. As such, many in our group of early fans did not know exactly what they were supposed to do as NHL fans. There was going to be some figuring it out and awkward adolescence anyway, but that was amplified by the minority contingent of condescending northern, traditional market fans. Important to note is that the vast majority of northern, traditional market fans are good people and not condescending. But unfortunately, the negative ones tend to be the loudest, and for a new fan base that maybe had some insecurity, that portion of the fan base is also the one that is most heard.
Instead of trying to pass muster with critics who were never going to be satisfied anyway, the early Caniac Nation mostly went the other direction. We did it our own way. Tailgating became central to the Carolina Hurricanes hockey culture. And in game, rather than being a fan base that cautiously waited, assessed and analyzed we mostly went with ‘when in doubt just make a ton of noise.’
The result was a culture that we could call our out that was founded on fun. We did our own incredible version of pregame with tailgating. Then, during the game, we leveraged the playoffs to stake a claim to being the loudest arena in the NHL. And the end result was a unique culture built with fun as its foundation.
Back to the here and now
Fast forward to today, and I think the Storm Surge is right up the same alley. First, it very clearly is a unique contribution to the NHL. Second, the Storm Surge is 100 percent predicated on fun. And I think that is where the old school hockey media misses a point. Dating back 20 years, our fan base does not care that much about the opinions of the condescending portion of the NHL fan base. We care about having fun with our NHL team.
So I encourage Canes fans to revel in the fun of the Storm Surge and mostly ignore the haters as we add another layer to the fabric our unique Hurricanes hockey culture.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on the occasional backlash on the Storm Surge?
2) What else do you think will become part of this team’s fabric/culture during its in-process third rising?