It is hard to picture a Carolina Hurricanes game without Glen Wesley in it. Only Eric Staal has played more than Glen Wesley’s 729 games in a Hurricanes uniform. Wesley logged 70 or more games in each of the team’s first seven years (2002-03 included seven games in Toronto after being traded at the deadline) and finished his career with 64, 68 and 78 games respectively in the final three years of his career.
In addition to his steady presence as a rock defensively on the ice, he made a similarly meaningful contribution off the ice. The willingness of Wesley and other early players to interact and sell the game to a new fan base led to a unique closeness between the team and its fan community. The willingness and humbleness with which Wesley as a league veteran did this work set a tone for how the team and its fan base interacted and an example for the rest of the team. The result was a special relationship that is uncommon in professional sports that is at the core of a unique Hurricanes hockey culture.
On the ice, he was a rock defensively year in and year out. Wesley was light on scoring stats but heavy on important responsibilities and contributions to the Hurricanes early success. He ate up the hard minutes against the other teams’ best players. He led the penalty kill. And he was a team leader as an alternate captain.
For the 2001-02 season that put hockey on the map in Raleigh, Wesley was paired primarily with Sean Hill in the playoffs forming the team’s top defensive pair in the magical 2002 playoff run. In those playoffs, that duo was a key part of a tight defense that had a knack for winning low-scoring games with ate heroics. He played mostly with Niclas Wallin on the 2006 team that brought the Stanley Cup to Raleigh and was deservedly the first player to receive the Stanley Cup from Rod Brind’Amour having finally etched his name on the Cup after 18 years of NHL service pursuing this goal.
When his hockey career ended with his retirement after the 2007-08 season, Glen Wesley had collected 35 goals and 120 assists in a Hurricanes uniform to go with his average of nearly 20 minutes per game leading the team’s defense. On February 17, 2009, Glen Wesley the Carolina Hurricanes raised Wesley’s #2 to the rafters in Raleigh. For Canes fans who see his #2 in the rafters at PNC Arena he will be remembered as a great player and great person who was instrumental to the establishment of the team in Raleigh.