Happy Hour: Cup Crazy!


The 2006 NHL Season has officially come to a close, and the Carolina Hurricanes have won the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals. With no more hockey games to be played, Lord Stanley’s Cup is to be presented to the team that wins the final game of the season. Which means that the Stanley Cup was skated on the ice by the Hurricanes in Raleigh on Monday night. The Carolina Hurricanes are YOUR 2006 Stanley Cup Champions, marking another successful defense of the Cup from the Canadians! But more importantly, they’re the champions of hockey for 2005-2006!

Happy Hour at Inside Pulse Sports!

Doin’ what I can with what I got.

Can you believe it? The Carolina Hurricanes have taken a giant step towards putting the Carolinas on the sports map. For too long, the Carolinas… well, f*ck South Carolina, the racist bastards. For too long, North Carolina has been christened a “college” state, with no pro sports teams of note. Forget the fact that the Hornets played so well for so long before dicking Charlotte and packing up for New Orleans. The Bobcats seem content on playing to empty houses and non-existent TV viewers. The Carolina Panthers are a budding little slice of Heaven that are now virtually NFC Contenders, but so far the Cardiac Cats have come up short when it matters.

Baseball? The Charlotte Knights at one point held the best record in all of organized baseball, but it is just a minor league team. If UNC keeps the miracle run going at Omaha, maybe we can reevaluate things later. NASCAR? Stock car racing sucks so badly right now, I’m embarrassed to have campaigned for the Hall to come to Charlotte in the first place. We North Carolinians are proficient in one sport, it seems: college basketball. The Winston-Salem/Durham/Chapel Hill/Raleigh belt, also known as “Tobacco Road” is basically Nirvana for basketball fans in the Tar Heel State. If you’re not watching Duke/UNC in February, you’re either in labor, getting busy with a Virginia fan, or in the process of putting the moves on a Virginia fan.

But then, there’s the Carolina Hurricanes.

The 2006 Stanley Cup Champions.

What we have here in the case of the Hurricanes is an obvious logical gap in the functioning of the universe. For those who don’t follow, let me break it down to you like this. Not only did Carolina come within a game of finishing with the best record in their conference, but they had the audacity to bitchsmack the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal, who invented ice, won the first two games in Carolina thanks to the lackluster play of one Martin Gerber. Thus, the miracle odyssey of young Cam Ward begin. After two straight wins in Montreal, Carolina came back home and defeated young Cristobal Huet and Co. at the RBC Center. In Game 6, Mister Stillman launched a salvo in OT that found its way into the net, sending the Hurricanes back home to host New Jersey.

For many, a New Jersey vs. Ottawa series seemed inevitable, but Carolina quickly doused those hopes with a spirit-breaking 6-0 thrashing of Brodeur and the Devils. The Devils seemed poised to split the series in Raleigh when they scored the go-ahead goal in Game 2 with less than 40 seconds left, but Eric Staal scored the equalizer with three seconds left in the third period, allowing the ‘Canes to escape into overtime, where they would defeat the Devils again. The Jersey scumbags got a win to stave off elimination in New Jersey, but Carolina finished them off for good with a 4-1 beat down in Raleigh to advance.

The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, had been making an equally impressive run to the big dance, defeating the Flyers in six and the world-beating/choking Ottawa Senators in five games. From the start, the Buffalo/Carolina series was everything that the previous two series had not been. The Sabres and Hurricanes battled with an intensity that was lacking in other playoff series (Miami/Detroit, I’m looking at you). The Sabres took a heart-wrenching Game 1. Carolina got to Ryan Miller four times in Game 2. Buffalo wouldn’t hold, taking Game 3 in Buffalo. Then Carolina got busy, bringing in Martin Gerber for the first time since Game 2 of the opening round to replace a struggling Ward. Carolina blanked Buffalo 4-0 on the road, then produced a stunning overtime thriller at home to go up 3-2 in the series. Buffalo had one more win in them, pulling out an OT victory in Buffalo, but Carolina sent Lindy Ruff and his loudmouth act back to Buffalo for the summer, winning 4-2 and advancing to play the darling Edmonton Oilers.

There’s not much that hasn’t already been said about the Cup Finals in 2006. An Alberta team again falls to a Southeast Division team in seven games. North Carolina has its first pro championship. Rowdy Roddy and Glen Wesley have their Stanley Cup victory. Cam Ward won the Conn Smythe, as predicted here in Happy Hour. Chris Pronger still looks like John Tesh. And hockey, for all intensive purposes, is back on the sporting map. In a suck-ass year for the NBA, hockey managed to overcome huge television obstacles and put on one hell of a season. The game is better than ever, with small market teams competing with hockey royalty. And while the Hurricanes may not win another Stanley Cup in their stay at Raleigh, a fan base has been borne from the fruits of the ‘Canes labor. They took a newly devout group of fans on a wild ride that has spanned almost nine months. Now, they begin to prepare for the defense of the Stanley Cup. Lord Stanley lives in Tobacco Road, and North Carolina will never be the same again!

All together now…

For Whalers Fans…

For Carolina Fans…

For Brind’Amour and his teammates…