Koutroumpis – Was end to Carolina Hurricanes Storm Surge premature?

Team captain Justin Williams informs fans, media that postgame ‘cellys’ will end

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
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Peter Koutroumpis


RALEIGH, N.C. – It caught everyone by surprise.

Storm surges, serious weather-related flood/high-water events, usually do.

Just as quickly as the Storm Surge postgame celebration was initiated by Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams and his teammates during the 2018-2019 NHL season, it ended just as abruptly.

It was a series of theatrically-themed events following home wins at PNC Arena that evolved from off-the-cuff conversation ideas to increasingly choreographed and staged spectacles that bonded a team with its fan base, intrigued the curious to buy a ticket to see it live, and irritated long-serving, stoic elders connected with the game.


There wasn’t a press release, there wasn’t mention of it to media following the pregame skate, just a tweet midday Thursday from the captain himself saying it would all be over following the game against the Washington Capitals.

“Regardless of the outcome tonight, this will be our last storm surge of the season. It has been an absolute treat celebrating victories with our @NHLCanes fans and muddying up the waters a little bit. We’ve created a buzz again in Carolina but we know ultimately we’ve done that…,” the first of two separate tweets read.

“…by winning games and playing for each other. Huge games are coming up for us. See you out there #TakeWarning.” 

“Regardless of the outcome”

Following a 3-2 loss to the defending Stanley Cup champions, nothing happened.

Well, yeah, it was a loss, so there wouldn’t normally be a Storm Surge celebration.

But, Williams’ tweet read, ‘regardless of the outcome’.

Even more cause for confusion.

Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said the players were “devastated”.

Yes, it seems they were.

Normally following games, win or lose, the players complete postgame workouts, talk with media members, and generally decompress in their lounge area with a protein shake or slice of pizza.

Not last night.

Aside from defenseman Calvin de Haan who was completing his workout with strength coach Bill Berniston watching, only Sebastian Aho, Nino Niederreiter, and Jordan Martinook were in visible range in the dressing room, speaking to the media.

Everyone else was in the team’s private area, no one entering and exiting, at least while media members were in the room anyway.

So why is all this relevant?

Well, it begs a few questions.

Why end it with two more home games remaining?

Williams’ tweet stated ‘huge games’ were coming up.

Yes, still sitting in the first wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference standings, the pressure to hold onto it has now increased exponentially, especially following two straight losses to the Caps.

Eventually, and hopefully earning a postseason position in the NHL playoffs will shake off a huge near 10-year old primate that they’ve been carrying through 77 games now.

But not riding out the wave of the Surge, may change mindsets and routines.

Why change any of the team’s routine?

If Williams’ teammates, who bought into this concept, developed a certain routine and good feelings of all the ‘fun’ wins brought and how to shake off losses quickly, all-of-a-sudden now have to change, that can create negative consequences for some.

Yes, I’m talking about superstition and routine – Karma, ‘don’t fix it, if it ain’t broke’, etc.

Don’t mess with it.

So why not let it all ride until next Thursday?

Again, only Williams will reveal clearly or not, hopefully following the team’s practice on Friday.

There was no point in asking following the loss, it would only have dug the stinger deeper into the skin.

Thus, while it seems the Storm Surge is done, hopefully the team’s success on the ice that precipitated it will not end.

That’s the most important outcome that everyone is interested in.

However, if it all comes crashing in the other way, the questioning of making such a change before the entire season has played out, will only add to head-scratching, odd-timed decisions and moments that have occurred over the past year, let alone the past 10.

Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport