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Bear Essentials On the Road: Raleigh, NC

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Bear Essentials on the Road:


Tonight has turned into a playoff game for Our Boys. In eighth, the Bruins are tied with the Sabres with 64 points. Carolina leads the Southeast Division with 64 points and needs to keep that lead to keep a fourth place slot in the Eastern Conference standings. Look for some line changes tonight and don't be surprised to see lineup change -- coach has hinted that some players are struggling and could find themselves in the press box. JB

Where are we going?
“Raleigh is Old South and New South, down-home and upscale, all in one,” says  “The city has agrarian roots in both farming and mining, but today Raleigh thrives on high-tech industries, government (it's the state capital), education, service industries, research, and medicine.

“Raleigh's growth has been rapid, especially in the suburban area known as North Raleigh,” continues the site.  “In recent years, downtown revitalization has taken off, with new housing, museums, shops, restaurants, and night spots infusing energy and new life into once abandoned buildings.”

The city’s official website backs that statement up.

Skimming around, there’s news about a 50-and-up three-on-three basketball league, the Raleigh-Wake Senior Games, and a new convention center that’s being built.

And according to the 2000 census, Raleigh has a population of 276,093, including 61,371 families.
Where are we playing?

The RBC Center opened October 29, 1999, when the Hurricanes played the New Jersey Devils.  The $158 million arena had been in the works since a groundbreaking ceremony in July 1997.

The Center “[represents] the culmination of the collaborative efforts of a unique partnership known as the Centennial Authority,” says the arena website.  “In part due to a grant from the State of North Carolina, the Centennial Authority owns the RBC Center building and the surrounding 80 acres, while the facility itself is operated by the Carolina Hurricanes/Gale Force Sports & Entertainment."

Originally called the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Complex, the arena was renamed the RBC Center in September 2002.  The Royal Bank of Canada purchased Centura bank, creating RBC Centura, which is based in North Carolina, and the new company partnered with arena owners Gale Force Sports & Entertainment to gain naming rights.

The RBC Center was built buy Hensel Phelps Construction, McDevitt Street Bovis, Inc. and architects Odell.  It is 700,000 total square feet and holds up to 20,000 people.

And a fun fact: During hockey games, the arena is 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.
Who are we playing?
In 1971, “The World Hockey Association award franchise to sports enthusiasts and businessmen Howard Baldwin, John Colburn, Godfrey Wood and William Barnes,” says the ‘Canes website, and so the team began -- in the first of it's many locations.

In January 1972, ex-Boston University coach Jack Kelley joined the team, then known as the New England Whalers, as head coach and general manager.  On October 12 of that year, the team played their first WHA game at none other than the Boston Garden.

The Whalers finally found a home at the Hartford Civic center in 1975, hosting the WHA All-Star Game in 1977.  However, an intense snow storm on January 18, 1978, led to the collapse of the building’s roof, and the team had to relocate to Springfield, Massachusetts, for two years.

In June of 1979, the Whalers joined the NHL along with three other WHL teams during an expansion, and the WHA ceased operation.  Because the Bruins were already considered the New England-area team, the New England Whalers were renamed the Hartford Whalers.

The 1996-1997 season was the last one the team would play in Hartford, and on October 1, 1997, the team played its first game as the Carolina Hurricanes.

In 2002, the team earned its first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing in three games.

However, in 2006, the team beat the Montreal Canadiens, the New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabres to go to the Finals again, winning their first Stanley Cup in seven game series against the Edmonton Oilers.

When are we playing?
7:00 p.m. ET.

Who's playing for us?
Stay tuned. Morning skate and Coach's presser are not until after 11:30 a.m.

Is the game on?
Yes.  Once again, NESN and WBZ will be covering the games, so be sure to tune in!

7:54 a.m.
The Boston Bruins got in early yesterday and should've enjoyed a nice long rest here in Raleigh. Team breakfast is at 8:30 a.m. and we'll be at the RBC Center before 11 a.m.

Thinking of the game, I am pretty sure I remember Tim Thomas coming off the ice early yesterday, but we'll confirm the starter later. Peter Schaefer was wearing a line uni, and with Pettri under the weather, I wonder if that signals a day off for the Finn.

10:53 a.m.
I've made it to the arena -- thanks to a shuttle over with Muzz, Metro, Thorts and Z -- and am watching the end of the Hurricanes morning skate.

Cam Ward looks to have come and gone, so that should mean he is in net for this evening's tilt  versus the Bruins.

This is one nice arena, folks. Home of the NC State Wolfpack and the Carolina Hurricanes, it is color coded for both teams and seems very new and clean. The layout of the RBC Center reminds me very much of the TD Banknorth Garden, minus the extra floor for the press box, which is built into the wall opposite the team benches.

The logo at center ice proclaims the club's tenth anniversary in Carolina.

I can't believe it has been that long since the Hartford Whalers in Connecticut. But there it is -- Ron Francis' #10 hanging from the ceiling. And Chuck Kaiton is nearby waiting to interview his team. As I remember, the Whalers had Gordie Howe's #9 retired, as well as former Bruin/Whaler Johnny McKenzie's #19 and Rick Ley's #2 -- but those banners seem to have stayed in the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, as have the WHA banners and 1986-87 Adams Division championship flag.

I can almost hear "Brass Bonanza" playing softly, and slowly, in the distance.

Carolina lost to New Jersey yesterday and is missing Rod Brind'Amour to a leg injury. Ray Whitney and Erik Cole were missing against the Devils.

Pride factor?
Luke Decock of The News & Observer notes that the Hurricanes could sweep the B's for the first time ever and that includes the franchise's time in Hartford (back to 1979).

2:10 p.m.
The Bruins have signed defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk.

Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club has signed defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk to an entry-level contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

"Andrew has the ability to be a prototypical defenseman in the new NHL," said Chiarelli.  "He is smart, and can both move the puck and skate well.  As he learns how to play against bigger and stronger players at the NHL level, he will mature into a productive player for our club."

Look for the full release on the front page...

2:40 p.m.
Bobby Allen, Peter Schaefer and Petteri Nokelainen will be the scratches this evening. Tim Thomas left the ice first, confirming his starting status.

After practice, Coach Julien talked about "playing a full 60 minutes."

"I thought we had Toronto [on the hook] after the first period," said Coach. "You can't let them off by coming out in the second period and not performing the same way.

"There are a lot of [factors why this happens], and we do have some young players who are learning as we are going on.

"It's about pushing them to be better in that area and it's about pushing our veterans and requiring a lot out of them," he said.

Coach Julien admitted that the team is "demanding on our players."

But he said that was what was required of the team in order to make the playoffs.

6:14 p.m.
The B's are in the building and the squads will be hitting the ice in a few minutes.

Sorry for the delay in my post this afternoon -- had a nice time reminiscing with Chuck Kaiton, a man whom I would give a lion's share of credit to in terms of garnering my love for the game of hockey.

Being from CT, I used to listen to Chuck on WTIC 1080 out of Hartford.

6:39 p.m.
Here is a decent guess on our lineup:
Chara-Wideman (sg) Thomas
Wideman-Ward (bg) Auld
Stuart-Hnidy Go Bruins!

Scratches: Allen, Nokelainen, Schaefer

Not much else going on, so I'll be over at the running recap for the duration. JB
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