It seems like it has been a long-time coming, but our North American Home Opener is finally here. Technically, we are 1-0 at home after Jeff Skinner
’s shootout winner in Helsinki brought us our first home win on Friday, Oct. 8. Though that game goes on the stat sheet, and over 300 Canes fans were there to witness it, we all know that our first real home game of the regular season faces-off at 7:08 p.m. Wednesday night.
I am not sure if it is the youthful exuberance around the team, or the universally-renowned event hovering in the distance, but I feel like it’s the first day of school. As I thought about it Tuesday night, there are a few new items you will see when you enter the building Wednesday night.
- All-Star Love – Though many saw the center-ice logo during the pre-season, Opening Night will serve as an unveiling of sorts for the logo in a few other prominent areas. It will be logo’s first public appearance on a red game jersey and on our new All-Star banner, which will be unveiled tonight and will reside in our rafters with other iconic Hurricanes moments. You will also see the logo on the graphic behind each bench and penalty box. Finally, weather permitting, the logo will make its first debut on our light posts that adorn the RBC Center property. These NHL designed banners are similar to the ones you will see all over the Triangle in the coming months (in varying sizes)
Personally, I have been very impressed with how the entire region has embraced the opportunity to host the All-Star game. As a native Carolinian, I think we all feel this is our time to showcase our region to a national audience. Though we have done that in the Stanley Cup Final, this time, we have a few more days to prepare and “clean house”.
- New In-Game Videos – Our CanesVision staff has done a terrific job in creating a few new video “opens” for our home games. Opening Night has its very own open that will only be seen on Opening Night. Then, there are three different opens that will rotate through the season.
Personally, I think the opening videos for our games Wednesday and Saturday are truly energizing. If you have been a fan for a few years, especially back to the ’02 Cup run, the opening videos are a must-watch. Tonight’s ceremony begins at roughly 6:48 p.m., so make sure you are in your seats early.
Though it is only personal opinion, and I am very nervous to “over-hype” it, the opening video that will air prior to Saturday’s game is my favorite opening of all-time. Those catching both can let me know which is their favorite.
- New In-Game Co-Host – We feel we have found a great match to Ron the Ref in Katie Miller. During the pre-season, we showcased three finalists who were selected from what turned out to be a nationwide search. All three finalists performed well, but Katie won the nod and will begin the regular season as our official in-game co-host. Katie is a graduate of UNC and aspires to be a pro, either behind the camera or in front, as she is currently playing golf as a professional (during the Canes off-season of course). I am sure her competitive nature will have her ready for Opening Night.
- New promotional games and sponsors – several of our in-house teams (corporate sales, CanesVision and promotions) have all worked very hard to not only bring a few new faces, but also a few new promotions. Don’t worry, some of the fan favorites like Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC’s Ask the Canes are returning…but you will also learn a few more things about the players this year in spots sponsored by Rudino’s Sports Corner or have YOUR Canes knowledge challenged by Bud Light in a promotion that everyone can take part in from the comfort of your seat (some questions easy…some, not sure the player themselves even know the answers to).
- New concourse food stands – Though it is not something I work with on a day-to-day basis, it is something I eat on a game-to-game basis. There are new stands around the concourse including a new pizza stand and a new grill that features freshly-grilled burgers and chicken sandwiches. We were offered the opportunity to sample these in the off-season, and they were tasty.
So come bring your pride and passion and come back to your favorite community as we remind our players what home really feels like (and sounds like).