Koutroumpis – Game-winning ‘celly’ talk with Hurricanes captain Justin Williams

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Let 'em know

Peter Koutroumpis


RALEIGH, N.C. – A Carolina Hurricanes game at PNC Arena has brought heightened expectations and anticipation this season.

Along with a win, this year’s edition of the uber fan-friendly Hurricanes must plan and execute a new and unique postgame celebration to share with their fans.

It’s an unsolicited standard they’ve set and what has now turned into the team’s encore following a triumph over the opposing foe.

Following the early ruminations of an extension to the prototypical raised-stick salute, this exercise in enhanced postgame fan engagement, new and foreign to the traditional, stoic and conservative National Hockey League (NHL), has ignited much interest.

Video: Thoughts on the Surge (SportsNet)

The Clap followed by the Surge has progressed from the Lambeau Leap-style launch into the end glass at one end to the Kayak which then evolved into, an all-around rink, Supernova-like explosion along all panes of plexiglass, to the Tiger Williams (Broomstick-style Ride to newer and younger fans), to the most recent Dub Dominoes dropping.

Did I get them all?

I might have missed a few, but that’s a quick rundown of what we’ve seen to date.

What’s next?

The Theo Fleury sliding spin-o-rama?

Video – YouTube.com

The PK Subban Gliding Archer pose with the Low-to-High Glove pump in the air maybe?

Video – YouTube.com

The NHL is a copycat league, so don’t reinvent the wheel, just put a new spin on it.

Well, with another win on Friday night, one against the visiting Anaheim Ducks, we’ll all find out.

Catching up with the creator and impetus for the Hurricanes to follow what some have dubbed a ceremony fit for other ‘lesser’ leagues and amateurs, captain Justin Williams addressed it quite bluntly following the pregame skate last Friday – prior to a 4-1 win over Florida followed by the Domino Drop celebration aka the latest ‘celly’.

They’re the only team in the league doing it, but how long will that last?

NHL teams do mimic each other.

Yes, they follow in organizational operations and practices, both willingly and reluctantly, and eventually all follow suit.

Who knows when, but that’s not something Williams thinks about.

“The thing is…we really don’t care what happens with it,” Williams stated.

“We’re enjoying it ourselves. We’re having some fun after a game with our fans, and one of the more important things is, we’re getting’ everyone to stick around for the end of the game, so we can all celebrate together what we came to the rink to get – and that’s a win.”

Growing up in small-town Cobourg, Ontario, Williams didn’t get a chance to see, let alone engage with NHLers like today’s fans have the fortune of doing.

“No, I maybe went to two games in my whole life of NHL hockey before I played in the NHL,” Williams said.

“It wasn’t a thing that you went to all the time, or practices that you went to all the time. The players weren’t as accessible as they are nowadays.”

Williams’ most memorable childhood moment of meeting an NHLer occurred at the Quebec International Pee-Wee hockey tournament when he got then-Quebec Nordiques defenseman Adam Foote’s stick.

“That was a big thing for me,” Williams pointed out, still sitting in his stall with his son close by and listening.

“I think I still have it in my parents’ basement somewhere. But, yeah, that was a big thing. I asked him, ‘Adam, can I have a stick?’ He brought it over, a big piece of lumber. I think it was a Sherwood, but I can’t be positive. I think it was a Sherwood.”

For young hockey players, and for fans who may or may not have played the game just the same, memories of interactions with NHL heroes and idols is long lasting.

The details of their stories don’t fade, they just become more enhanced as the years pass.

For some, a little bit more embellished than others, but the moment occurred and it was a significant life-enhancing one at that.

So what can postgame celebrations do for everyone watching the ‘best’ pro hockey league in the world?

Quite simply – put a smile on everyone’s face, even for just a second.

“I got a video a couple of weeks ago from my son’s team when it was in Chicago, and they did one of our celebrations on the ice after the game,” Williams said.

“It’s fun. It’s engaging, and most importantly people enjoy it. The people that don’t, you’re always gonna have people on both sides of everything. But, you can’t control what everyone else says, and you can’t control what everyone else thinks. And, the moment you can be comfortable with that, and not worry about what other people think, then just do your thing and be you. We’re being us right now.”

Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport