Inside the library of the ornate North Carolina Executive Mansion is a clue about the personality of its 30th resident.
In front of the windows along the back wall is a framed display that includes the iconic photo of the Carolina Hurricanes 2006 Stanley Cup Championship team alongside photos of Gov. Roy Cooper and his family with the Stanley Cup.
North Carolina's 75th governor is a proud fan. He was at the then-RBC Center on June 19, 2006, standing for the entirety of Game 7 in what he calls "the greatest sporting experience of [his] life." Nearly 13 years later, he shared in the jubilation of a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Hurricanes' locker room after their win over New Jersey in early April.
And on Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Cooper, who has "Carolina Hurricanes Fan" listed in his Twitter bio, and First Lady Kristin Cooper, who was outfitted in a red Sebastian Aho jersey, celebrated the Hurricanes' 2018-19 season with an intimate gathering at the Executive Mansion.
"We wanted to tell them what joy this season brought to us," said Gov. Cooper, who sported a black suit, white shirt and red tie. "North Carolina is a hockey state. Raleigh is a hockey town. We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to go to these games."
The Hurricanes were represented by President and General Manager Don Waddell and head coach Rod Brind'Amour, in addition to a few members of the front office. Brind'Amour and Waddell spoke briefly in between mingling and snapping photos with Canes fans in attendance.
"Right away, I knew there was something special here. I've been here 20 years now. This is my home. Met my wife here, my kids … it's something special in North Carolina. The people here are phenomenal," Brind'Amour said. "When we come together … I'm telling you right now, we have the loudest building in the National Hockey League. That's special, and it does matter. Our guys feed off it."
"Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup. We made it to the Conference Final this year. It's a step," Waddell said. "We've got to continue to build off that. Without everyone's support, we wouldn't be able to accomplish this."