RALEIGH, N.C. – Now into the second week of the National Hockey League (NHL) postseason, the reality of the abrupt ending of the regular season has finally settled in.
It’s in the rearview mirror for many as the Carolina Hurricanes have missed the playoffs for a sixth straight season.
Many have moved on to watching baseball, soccer, lacrosse, golf and any other spring and summer sport that offers pro and college events in the area.
After completing a quick morning of exit interviews, Hurricanes players moved on to their offseason locales, be it in Raleigh or points in every other direction in the country and around the globe.
Head coach Bill Peters and executive vice president and general manager Ron Francis wrapped up the season a few days after that answering questions of why, how, and what’s next for the team and organization.
Nothing new was gleaned out of it all other than the mindset and statement that ‘we need to fix it’ rang louder in an empty arena.
The feeling of missing the playoffs has been a mixed one, much like the reaction you have after being stung by a mosquito, hornet, bee or any other venomous insect.
For some, the feeling was sharp, quick and clean – a little rise in the skin, some inflammation, and no further side effects.
For others, the pain was significant and accompanied by swelling and a larger wound that served as a reminder of how much dread such an occurrence presents.
Depending on the type of hockey fan and follower you are, you have probably moved on and forgotten about hockey – at least for a while.
You glance at the television or check your smartphone just long enough to know that in 16 other cities, people have been provided with an exhilarating feeling to know what NHL playoff hockey is really about.
You can’t bear to watch in too much detail how much fun others are having being swept in the atmosphere of it all.
Yes, you might know what that felt like back in 2009 or even as far back as the storybook season that culminated in June 2006.
However, many don’t – not with this team in recent years.
It’s a void that has to be filled.
Just make the playoffs – at least to play four more games and provide a feeling that is unprecedented during the regular season, and generate the excitement around the Triangle that makes it such a fun place to live in.
For the hockey diehards, your commitment to the NHL brand and the sport is monumental as you watch until the wee hours, taking in every minute of playoff hockey, every night.
You are the individuals who power the engine to keep everyone motivated that the Carolina Hurricanes are worth supporting because one day – yes, one day – that postseason feeling will return to the Triangle.
In the meantime, many of us will get outside and tend to things that we would probably ignore if we were at PNC Arena watching playoff hockey – mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges.
While doing so, we’ll be diligent and on the lookout not to get stung – again.
It’s a feeling we’ve already felt too early this year.