Bates Battaglia broke into the NHL in the Canes inaugural 1997-98 season and was a fan favorite in the team’s early years. In his 402 games for the Hurricanes, he registered 63 goals and 150 points.
Like many Hurricanes, his best season was the 2001-02 campaign in which he scored 21 goals and 25 assists playing in all 82 games in the regular season. Battaglia also had a strong playoff run. He was a key part of a quick start against New Jersey in the first round chipping in two goals and an assist in the first two games of the series. (The Canes only scored four total.) The biggest was an overtime game-winner in game two. The quick start was vital to quickly putting the 2000-01 playoff loss to New Jersey in the rearview mirror and getting the Canes into the series. Battaglia went on to collect a total of five goals and nine assists in 23 playoff games while also doing his part to wear down opponents’ top lines by dragging them into a physical, grinding style of game.
His success in the 2001-02 regular season and playoffs was largely as a part of the vaunted BBC line. If you look back through Canes history and seek the prime example of big, physical, difficult to play against or any other similar adjectives, you eventually arrive at the BBC line and specifically its play during the 2002 playoffs. Bates Battaglia was the first ‘B’ in that Battaglia/Brind’Amour/Cole line. The line was tasked with matching up against the other teams’ best lines. It was incredibly effective in these matchups by dragging opponents into a physical battle and war of wills. Once they got the puck deep in the offensive zone, they just cycled and controlled play until they scored or until the shift was over.
The joy of watching Bates Battaglia as part of the BBC line was the purity of a stripped down game where it was about strength and physical effort. This pure version of “who wants it more” and “it’s me and my two buddies against you and your two buddies” played incredibly well on the playoff stage and with a fan base experiencing its first playoff hockey (first series was in Greensboro, so this playoffs was a first for many in Raleigh). It was this line that set the tone for the New Jersey series and the playoffs in total when it matched up against the Devil’s best and held them in check scoring-wise.
Along the way Bates Battaglia collected fans and the nickname ‘Lucky’ (for his #13) and some scoring stats, but for me the memory of him will always be the visual of a tremendous grinding shift cycling the puck and winning individual battles to keep it with his 2002 playoff line mates Erik Cole and Rod Brind’Amour.