Despite the ups and downs of being a Carolina Hurricanes fan, I am incredibly thankful that we have an NHL team at all in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I am also incredibly thankful for the riches that cheering for the team has given me as a fan.
The team was a godsend for me as a converted North Carolinian and sports fan. I grew in Northwest Indiana. I was more of a less from Chicago in terms of pro sports. I grew up watching the Chicago Cubs on WGN when it was ONLY day baseball and before WGN became a cable TV station. I am and will also be an Indiana kid when it comes to college sports, especially college basketball. The parallels between Indiana and Purdue and Gene Keady and Bobby Knight from my childhood is 1 of incredibly few places that could claim to rival the Raleigh-Durham area in terms of college basketball.
But with a desire for a new adventure, I graduated from Indiana University in 1992 and packed up to live/work in North Carolina. I immediately appreciated what this area had to offer and of course quickly joined the smarter half of the population that realized there was nothing that required a person to live through northern winters. A few years later my future (and still current) wife moved down here. A few years after that I went back to school and graduated with a fresh chance to again start over anywhere in the country. When my wife and I considered all kinds of interesting possibilities and ultimately chose to stay here, we put a stake in the ground and declared the Raleigh-Durham area home.
I will always call Indiana home, but I have also long said that despite not being a native that I would happily and proudly call myself a North Carolinian too if North Carolina would have me. And since then, my wife and I have had 3 children all born in Raleigh, so we are now mostly in anyway whether officially sanctioned or not.
But there was still this sports thing…
- I LOVE ACC basketball and immediately appreciated living in another college basketball hot bed, but I was an Indiana kid at my core (still usually have an Indiana t-shirts or sweat shirt in tow when I play pick up basketball). And the ACC tourney as an appetizer to the NCAA tourney was a wonderful addition for a college basketball fan.
- As far as professional sports, I was in deepest as a fan for baseball (Cubs and even to a lesser degree Sox) and football (Bears). And there is not a true local team for those in Raleigh anyway.
But when they announced the Carolina Hurricanes move from Hartford, I was on board before they even finished the press conference. It was almost too perfect for me personally. The team was new, here anyway, so it was a chance to join something right from the beginning. And as far as hockey goes, if you asked me who my favorite team was as a child, I would have said the Blackhawks. But I really was not much of a hockey fan growing up. My dad and I’s sports fall and winters were mostly filled with Bears football and college with a small mix of pro basketball, and I quickly jumped to baseball as soon as it started. So I did not have to give up a childhood team to take the Carolina Hurricanes as a new favorite.
And it was a new hobby of sorts to boot. I immediately immersed myself in all things Carolina Hurricanes. I have fond memories of the early days when I had to make sure I made note and blocked time on my calendar to catch radio broadcasts during the early days when only 40-50 games were on TV. And we did the arduous trips to Greensboro to see games in person. And I read and watched absolutely everything that I could find.
Even before there was really much good that came from it in terms of results, wins or anything measurable, I was incredibly thankful for the crazy serendipity that out of the blue plopped a professional hockey team down right where I lived in a place that could not have figured to even be on the radar for such a thing.
But it got even better when the team finally arrived in Raleigh and then did some crazy good things over the years that followed…