RALEIGH, N.C. – Only a few players and handfuls of the Carolina Hurricanes’ staff remember last seeing the Stanley Cup in Raleigh.
Many fans do too.
However, that was a long time ago – coming up on 10 years to be exact.
For many others in the Triangle who weren’t around to witness the Hurricanes winning their first-ever and only National Hockey League (NHL) championship back in 2006, the only way to get a glimpse of the storied championship symbol of excellence in hockey is to view it in its home at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario.
There, it rests in the Great Hall with the names inscribed on it of all the players, coaches, and team personnel who were involved in earning the chance to lift it, kiss it, hug it, drink and eat out of it, and hug, kiss, and lift it over and over again.
This weekend it’s on a road trip and will be on display here for all to see again.
Like many teams that haven’t won the Cup in recent years, Carolina will celebrate its past triumph – an anniversary celebration to bring back former players to mix and mingle with fans in a variety of weekend-long public relations and fund raising events that will keep spirits high while the current team continues to compete for a playoff spot.
The Hurricanes currently sit four points out of a wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference standings, trailing behind the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Yes, there still are games being played – very important ones – while Lord Stanley’s Cup among other league trophies will rest in the concourse, in a hospitality tent, at Crabtree Valley Mall, and any other location the ‘keepers of the Cup’ transport it to.
Amidst all the nostalgia and reminiscing, the Hurricanes will face off against the Penguins on Friday and against the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Having missed the opportunity to qualify to compete for the Cup, otherwise known as making the playoffs, for six straight seasons, the Hurricanes could use a little motivational boost towards the latter part of the regular season.
Current Carolina head coach Bill Peters wasn’t around when the organization won the Cup in a Game 7 finish over the Edmonton Oilers.
So, while he’s appreciative of the organization’s past accomplishment, he and the current team are trying to take the vital steps needed to even have a chance to talk about seeing the Cup again – and that’s making the playoffs.
You won’t see him nor many of the players out and about; they’ve still got a lot of work to do.
“We’re not goin’ to any of the stuff,” Peters said following practice earlier in the week.
“We’re just goin’ to play hockey. I’m not goin’. Roddy (Brind’Amour) might, obviously because he had a little bit to do (with winning that). The only guys who it affects on our team, and they’re mature and focused, is Eric and Wardo.”
Peters was obviously referring to captain Eric Staal and goaltender Cam Ward, who were integral parts to winning that Cup for Carolina.
As such, the team’s display in the Hall of Fame is smattered with them all over it.
Yes, Hall of Fame member and Hurricanes executive vice president and general manager Ron Francis is on display there too, along with recent inductee, owner Peter Karmanos, Jr.
Staal and Ward are the final playing link to the past and future of the team at this point, and as unrestricted free agents, may or may not be with the team much longer.
That all still remains to be seen, and soon with the trade deadline approaching on Feb. 29.
In the meantime though, they and everyone in attendance throughout the weekend can and should celebrate the past.
At the same time, many like Peters have no intention of being disrespectful of the situation, but want to move forward.
So while the organization and fans alike look back, he’s focused on keeping his team moving forward with their matchups against the Pens and Isles.
“I think it’s exciting,” Peters continued.
“It’s gonna give give us some energy and boost…There’s lots of valuable points on the line.”