Usually at the end of the season, I feel pretty good for whoever is hoisting the Cup. Even when it's the Wings, I still feel pretty good for the players and fans of the winning team...but I don't have that feeling this year.
There are so many things that just drive me nuts about Carolina that I can't be happy that they won. Just can't.
I have no problem with hockey in the state of North Carolina. I'm a firm believer in the more hockey spreads, the better it is. Having a team in Raleigh is not a bad thing...neither is having one in Nashville, Tampa, Atlanta, or Miami.
My feelings stem directly from having to deal with Peter Karmanos on a number of levels...
1. 1997 - The city of Columbus is on the verge of building a new arena (and soccer field) to lure an NHL team (and give the Crew an actual home). Issue 1 is hotly contested, but things are looking up. Just before that election, Peter J. Karmanos Jr. comes waltzing into town carrying the Hartford Whalers in his pocket. He woos some people, gets on TV, gets in the paper, and does just enough to get The People thinking, "Hey, we don't need to vote for that, Pete will bring us a team ANYWAY!!"
WRONG! Days before the election, we see Karmanos on TV live from Raleigh announcing that he's moving his team there...but it's too late for our vote here, Issue 1 goes down by narrow margin. (Later McConnell did his thing, but that's a different subject.)
2. I worked for Compuware, Pete's "real" company. He started it many years ago, and it's a fairly successful company. But, thanks to Pete's management and lack of foresight, CPWR has been in the tank for many years after his Y2K money dried up. While I was there, everybody took mandatory pay cuts...good way to win friends. After my third pay cut in less than six months, I finally got out, but not before I vowed to never pull for Carolina again as my own personal crusade against the short, bald guy from michigan with a rather severe Napoleon Complex. (CPWR closed at $7 today...guess those options Pete gave me with a strike price of $21 are pretty much worthless...)
3. During the lockout, you couldn't find anybody quicker to pop off about "linkage" and salary caps and, "We'll lock 'em out for YEARS if we have to!" than Peter Karmanos. This guy was a loose cannon the whole time complaining about the money he was losing. (Yeah, same guy who started the whole mess with the Fedorov offer sheet just to piss off his Detroit rival, Illich.) It was rarely constructive out of Pete, it was combative.
4. The good folks of Carolina have barely noticed this team all year. Now I know there are die-hards there that have been to every game, but the attendence figures don't lie. Announced crowds of 10k are under that. This particular Carolina team has been AWESOME all year, not just in the playoffs. Eric Staal alone should have had them cramming at the turnstiles, but it didn't happen. In April, 3 weeks before the playoffs started, the Canes played a home game before 12,137...6,000 under capacity. This is a division leading, headed for the playoff team taking on Ovechkin...12k. Pathetic.
But wait, there's more...a gentleman from the greater Columbus area went online three days before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals and bought two tickets to the game. Lower bowl, blue line. Guess that's all they had left.
Game 7, Eastern Conference finals tickets were available just before face-off.
Some Carolina apologists in the past have said, "Well, wait until we win, you'll see!!" Well, you're winning. You won all year, and now you have the greatest trophy in professional sports in your possession...better sell out the season.
I hope that whole thing came off as bitter because it is. No, not jealous that they won, our situations are entirely different. Just totally bitter...the man who took a dump on Hartford with a fly-by shitting on Columbus now owns the Cup.
Somewhere there's a Carolina fan who bought a jersey the day the team was announced. He or she hasn't missed a game. They died when the Wings took them out a few years ago. This person lives and breathes Hurricane hockey. For that person, I am genuinely happy...they deserve to enjoy this. For Pete and the folks who didn't bother to show up in November to see one of the most explosive teams in hockey...well, it feels pretty empty in that sense.