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The Carolina Hurricanes, from A to Z

Oct 17, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour watches the game from behind the bench against the San Jose Sharks during the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

With the Hurricanes playing their 26th season in Carolina, what better way to break down the team’s history, fan favorites and style of play that an A to Z segment. 26 seasons, 26 letters. It just works.

From Sebastian Aho to the zeal of the Caniac fanbase and everything in between, here’s everything you need to know about the Canes in a fun, alphabetical package.

A – Sebastian Aho

I mean, this one is a gimme. Sebastian Aho is the face of the Hurricanes franchise and he’s well on his way to rewriting the team’s record books.

He earned the crown of “shorty king” by setting the Canes’ all-time record for short-handed goals with 17th such score at Los Angeles on Saturday. Going into Oct. 19’s game against the Kraken, Aho is tied for fifth all-time in goals and ranks sixth in assists, fifth in points, tied for third in hat tricks and third in game-winning goals in franchise history.

B – Rod Brind’Amour

It’s hard to name any one person has had more to do with the Hurricanes’ success in Raleigh than Rod Brind’Amour. As a player, he captained the 2005-06 Canes to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and won both of his two career Selke Trophies in Carolina as one of the game’s all-time great defensive forwards.

After playing 10 of his 21 seasons with the Canes, Brind’Amour climbed the coaching ranks in Carolina to eventually take the helm as head coach starting in 2018-19. Right away, he oversaw the Hurricanes’ first playoff berth in 10 years by making it to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first year as head coach. Now in his sixth year as the head honcho, the Hurricanes have won three straight division titles and haven’t missed the playoffs once.

Brind’Amour is one of three inaugural members of the Hurricanes Hall of Fame (more on that later) along with Ron Francis and Glen Wesley.

C – Cam Ward

Okay, I promise it’s not all players but I can’t not talk about Cam Ward.

The 2005-06 Conn Smythe Trophy winner ranks right up there with Brind’Amour as one of the most celebrated players in franchise history. Ward broke onto the scene as a rookie in 2005-06, taking the reins as the Canes’ premier goalie on the way to that Stanley Cup victory. Ward spent all but his final season in Carolina, ending his career as the all-time franchise leader in wins, saves, shutouts and minutes played.

Perhaps no other honor is more indicative of Ward’s legacy in Raleigh than becoming the first inductee of the Hurricanes Hall of Fame last November.

D – Defensive depth

Shifting gears a bit to the current season, defensive depth is huge strength in Carolina’s push for a second Stanley Cup. Returning on of the best defensive pairings in hockey with Jaccob Slavin and Brent Burns and another great one-two punch in Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce demonstrates the Canes’ commitment to building quality on the back end.

Burns’ ability to create offense from the blue line is well-known, and Skjei’s put together of the best offensive starts for a d-man in franchise history. Pair those guys with Slavin — one of the league’s most sound technical defenders — and a career Hurricane in Pesce creates one of the most stable defensive groups in the league.

On the third pairing and beyond, Dmitry Orlov brings some additional veteran pedigree to the mix. While Tony DeAngelo’s reunion tour in Carolina hasn’t had an ideal start, his reputation as an excellent power play quarterback and the type of “sandpaper” guy the Hurricanes sought to add over the summer precedes him. Having an excellent up and coming defenseman like Jalen Chatfield, who brings great physicality and a “play with your hair on fire” type of energy in his own right speaks volumes about how much of a talent reservoir the Canes have on defense.

E – Energy

Speaking of bringing energy to the ice, one of the pillars of Hurricanes hockey is its extremely passionate fanbase. All around Raleigh, throughout the Triangle, across North Carolina and beyond, you’ll see Caniacs representing their team with jerseys, hat, bumper stickers, flags outside houses and banners in bars and restaurants and businesses and just about everywhere else.

On game nights, they descend upon PNC Arena to live up to its billing as “The Loudest House in the NHL.” You’ll be hard-pressed to find another fanbase as passionate about their team as Canes fans are in North Carolina, where everyone and their mother is a huge Caniac.

F – Forecheck

One of the tenants of Hurricanes hockey in the Brind’Amour era is a heavy emphasis on the forecheck. Maintaining pressure by keeping your opponent on the back foot (back skate?) and maximizing your own ability to create scoring chances. It’s something coach Brind’Amour excelled at as a player and now passes along to a team executing that philosophy well.

G – Goalie tandem

The Canes boast one of the better goalie tandems in the league with three NHL-caliber goaltenders. Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta head the main NHL duo, but young phenom Pyotr Kochetkov is burgeoning into one of the best goalie prospects in the league. Andersen spearheaded the Canes’ goal prevention in his first season in Carolina en route to the 2020-21 Jennings Trophy, the second of his career. With Raanta playing a crucial supplementary role to keep himself and Andersen fresh, as well as Kochetkov eminent rise to stardom, Carolina looks set between the pipes for years to come.

H – Hurricanes Hall of Fame

Got some double H action here with the newly founded Hurricanes Hall of Fame. As part of the 25th anniversary season in Carolina last year, the Canes unveiled a new franchise Hall of Fame to honor their all-time greats. As of now, the four members are Rod Brind’Amour, Ron Francis, Glen Wesley and Cam Ward.

I – Invisalign Arena

While PNC Arena is the main hub for Hurricanes action, Carolina’s practice rink resides up in Morrisville, North Carolina in Invisalign Arena at Wake Competition Center. The WCC also stands as a symbol to the Canes’ involvement in growing the game, hosting many youth hockey practices and events to build the next generation of future hockey players, coaches and fans in the Triangle and beyond.

J – Jordan Staal

One of the most influential players in franchise history, Jordan Staal is now in his 12th season as a Hurricane and his fifth straight as a captain. Like his brother Eric before him, Jordan sits in the top 10 in franchise history in several major categories, including eighth in points and assists, ninth in even-strength goals and fourth in games played by skaters.

Jordan Staal is a critical piece of the Hurricanes’ title window. He centers the crucial third line tasked with shutting the opposition’s first liners and is the crux of the Canes’ penalty killing unit which consistently rates among the best in the NHL. All that’s really missing for Jordan is a Stanley Cup in Carolina — yes, he won one with the Penguins in 2008-09, but he would cement his legacy as an all-time Hurricane by bringing another championship to Carolina.

K – Koochie

Just for the record, we mean Kochetkov.

“Koochie” quickly became a fan favorite in Carolina for his meteoric rise going into the 2021-22 playoffs, where he showed off some impressive agility for a goalie as well as his ability to make the more traditional saves. As he gets closer and closer to transitioning from goalie of the future to goalie of the present, expect fans to embrace the Koochie moniker even more in the coming years.

L – Loudest house in the NHL

The building formerly known as the RBC Center earned the distinction of “loudest house in the NHL” back in 2006 when the CBC’s Don Cherry used that exact descriptor for the home of the Carolina Hurricanes during their Stanley Cup run. Over 15 years later, PNC Arena still hosts that same level of intensity. It’s something Caniacs take pride in, bringing as much intensity as possible to an electric gameday atmosphere to push the Hurricanes forward as well as make things difficult for whichever team dares invade the home of the Hurricanes.

M – Mista Svechnikov

If you thought you’d have to wait until S to read about Andrei Svechnikov, you’re in luck.

Jordan Martinook (hey, another M!) coined the now viral catchphrase for one of Carolina’s brightest stars. Svechnikov’s probably the biggest piece of the Canes core not named Sebastian Aho, and with good reason. In just five years in the league, Svechnikov’s put up 264 points in 347 games as one of the main offensive powerhouses for the Hurricanes. As he nears ever closer to returning from a torn ACL he suffered in March of last season, expect to Svechnikov to pick up right where he left off to boost the Canes’ cup push.

N – Nečas

You didn’t think we’d skip over another fan favorite like Martin Nečas, did you? The young gun center finally had his breakout year in 2022-23, posting a team-high 71 points on 28 goals and 43 assists, all career-bests.

Nečas possesses one of the most lethal combinations of size, speed and skill in the NHL. After years of teasing that potential, to see him finally blossom last season was nothing short of euphoric for Canes fans. If he can build on that success this season, he’ll cement himself as a mainstay in Carolina’s current core.

O – One Stanley Cup

We’ve mentioned it a few times already, but Carolina is in the midst of a fervent title push to earn another Stanley Cup. While the magic of that first championship in ’05-06 will never be forgotten, the Canes are hellbent on capitalizing on its wealth of talent and resources to establish the franchise as one of the NHL’s best.

P – Pesce

Flipping back to the player route, Brett Pesce’s one of the most underrated pieces of the Canes’ current core. A career-long Hurricane drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft, Pesce notched career-highs of 25 assists and 30 points last season. Now entering a contract year, the 28-year-old defenseman’s status as a Hurricane is a bit up in the air as trade rumors swirled over the summer. Even amid talks of an extension during the season, Pesce still has a chance to make a lasting impact by boosting his Canes to a championship.

Q – Quicky

As with the K segment, just going to clarify that we’re talking about Jesper Fast here.

Another piece of Carolina’s integral third line along with Staal and Martinook, Fast drew some attention by tearing it up in last year’s playoffs to the tune of six goals and three assist in 15 games. Fast reaffirmed his importance to the team’s success through that stretch, something he and the Canes’ supporting cast will hope to double down on this year.

R – Raleigh

Yeah, the team name is the “Carolina” Hurricanes, but the Canes are a distinctly North Carolina team. The Hurricanes cemented there identity in NC by choosing Raleigh, the state capital, as a home base rather than the more business-oriented and ostensibly more advantageous choice down in Charlotte to secure both North and South Carolina.

While the absence of an NHL team in Atlanta (R.I.P. Thrashers) means the Canes don’t have as much competition in the Southeast, refusing to do the same old, same old down in Charlotte with the Panthers and Hornets let the Hurricanes build their unique identity around a blossoming metro area and an incredibly invested fanbase in the Triangle.

S – Sandpaper

Sandpaper, grit, bite, whatever you want to call it, that’s what the Canes sought to add over the summer. That playoff-level competitive is what guys like Michael Bunting and Dmitry Orlov bring to the table. They’re joined by Brendan Lemieux and DeAngelo as guys that can agitate opponents give Carolina the upper hand come May and June.

T – Turbo time

Ah yes, more double-letter action here. Teuvo Teräväinen, aka Turbo, is having the breakout season we talked about the Canes needing from him going into the season. He leads the team with four goals through as many games, showcasing that thunderous shot he’s always possessing but seldom broke out prior to this year.

Teräväinen’s been a solid contributor for the Hurricanes is just about every aspect of play, contributing quality in even strength, on the power play and during the penalty kill. As Turbo takes his game to the next level, all those contributions are now amplified.

U – Felix Unger Sorum

Felix Unger Sorum emerged as arguably the most promising prospect in the Canes’ system this preseason. Despite turning 18 just one day before the rookie showcase down in Florida, Unger Sorum impressed there and at Canes training camp with his cerebral play, showcasing maturity beyond his years on the ice. While he’s not an NHLer yet, it looks like Canes fans will see Unger Sorum sooner rather than later if his trajectory continues.

V – Vision

Zooming out a bit here, the Hurricanes are set thriving in Raleigh rather than just coasting along. The Centennial Authority, which owns PNC Arena, signed a 20-year lease extension with the Canes this past August. The agreement included several planned upgrades and renovations to PNC Arena and the surrounding arena, including retail and dining space, a 3,000-5,000 capacity indoor concert venue and more. If anyone was still wondering whether the Canes could make hockey thrive in the south, there’s your answer. The Hurricanes are here to stay.

W – Whaler night

The Canes now have deep roots in Raleigh, but they don’t forget where they came from — a common and valuable character trait around these parts. That’s why, one game a year, the Canes trade out their red and black for green and blue to celebrate Whalers Night.

Paying homage to the Hartford Whalers — the Hurricanes’ initial identity before moving to North Carolina in 1997-98 – Whalers Night features an exciting retro aesthetic for old and new hockey fans to enjoy. And you have to admit those Whalers uniforms are pretty fly, too.

X – Xerophilous

Okay I know that’s a weird word but bear with me here. The letter X is the bane of every A to Z list, so I have to get creative. I mean, let’s be honest: using something like “X-factor” and “X marks the spot” is the easy way out. I’m not about that.

“Xerophilous” means “thriving in or tolerant or characteristic of a xeric environment — that is, an environment with very little water. Like a cactus is xerophilous in the way it survives and adapts in a dry desert, the Canes have made a similar adaption to thrive in a nontraditional hockey market. How many other NHL teams are known for their massive tailgate scene? Or their regional barbecue? The Canes have adapted to North Carolina not simply to survive but to become one with their environment and build their own brand of hockey culture.

Y – Youth

If you follow the Canes closely, you knew this was coming. The Hurricanes boast one of the deepest and most prolific farm systems in the NHL. Even without an AHL for the time being, Carolina’s consistently brought in and developed several elite talents over the last decade. Look no further that Aho, Svechnikov, Kochetkov, Necas for recent examples with potentially more like Unger Sorum and Vasily Ponomarev on the way.

Z – Zeal

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the Canes have an incredibly passionate fanbase. Not only to the fans live up to their Caniac moniker, the players and coaches feed off that energy. Raleigh itself teems with enthusiasm for the Canes, and people really like that. Players stick around because of that appreciation for the team and for living in the Triangle.