The hockey franchise occupying NC State’s basketball arena had been dead to me for so long, and I’d shut off caring about it for so long, it took more than two periods of a purely gravy playoff game to bring me all the way back.
There was a time I lived and died with the Carolina Hurricanes almost as much as NC State—it’s the only major pro franchise representing my hometown; how could I not care about it? Plus I like hockey a lot, which helps.
But the Hurricanes slowly wore me down over the last 10 years, which is the span of time between their last playoff berth and their current one. The Hurricanes have never been consistent winners—they won the Eastern Conference in 2002, which felt like the start of something important but wasn’t. They didn’t get back to the playoffs until 2006, and that year they managed to win the whole thing. After that there were more snags and they weren’t back in the playoffs until 2009, when they made a run to the conference finals.
It’s easy to foster distrust with a record of inconsistency like that, and I had to grudgingly pull myself back into trying to care about what the Canes were doing this year. There’s been plenty of times where they almost made the playoffs but didn’t. I’m jaded enough, I figured this would be another one of those times.
Instead they clinched a spot in the postseason at home, with a game to spare, even! They’d been playing great since the calendar turned, but just getting to the postseason felt like the point, and hey I’m happy but detached to be here!
The Canes’ home games—raucous bandbox craziness—brought back all of the best memories, though, and then there was Wednesday, where they threw it back again and proved everybody wrong in an elimination game.
There’s something vaguely familiar about this! But I remember all about it now. It’s good to have the Canes back.