The front of the belt is adorned with the Hurricanes logo in the center with the words “Carolina Hurricanes” above it and “Est. 1997” below it. Among other elements, the secondary logo can be found on one side above “P2W” – more on that below – and “Team First” on the side opposite.
The belt was first doled out by head coach Bill Peters following the Canes’ win over New Jersey on Saturday. He awarded it to Andrej Nestrasil, who packed it up for the trek to Chicago and then passed it on to John-Michael Liles following the team’s 2-1 win on Sunday. Liles was spotted strutting around with the belt in the locker room. He even carried it on and off the plane and to practice today.
So, what does it mean, and what is its significance alongside the fireman’s helmet? Peters was coy when I asked him about it. I then went straight to the source and the current belt holder: Liles. What follows is our unedited and pretty comical conversation.So what can you tell me about the belt?
“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve really narrowed down what the belt stands for. Given that I won it last night, the rumor is that it’s for the best 35-year-old in the game. I pretty much locked that up.”But Nesty won it the night before, right?
“Therein lies the quandary, I guess. Right now it’s a combination of, I believe, hardest working or laying it on the line or something. There’s a lot of speculation going around.”A championship player.
“Yeah, something like that. I just like to say that I’m a world champion, The People’s Champ if you will.”That’s why you carried it over your shoulder and onto the plane.
“Yeah, obviously. People’s Champ. That’s what they do in the WWE. He walks out of the building with it, carries it around with him everywhere.”Do you have to give it away the next game? Or could you keep it?
“Well, there’s also speculation that it could be kept. We have talked about keeping it in the over-30 club, which is only a select few guys. I do know that I was the second choice last night. Eddie won the helmet, and then Nesty wanted to give him the belt as well, but since he won the helmet, I was his second choice. Maybe it’s the second choice.”So you can’t double up then? No helmet and belt?
“I don’t know. I’m not really sure. We’ll see.”Maybe it’s like a second star of the game.
“Yeah, we’re still figuring out exactly what it is, but apparently now we have two awards for wins.”It’s got a lot of team messages on it from “Team First” to “P2W,” which I can only assume means “play to win.”
“Something along those lines. You’re actually off on that one.”What is it? Or is it a locker room secret?
“That one’s going to remain a secret. It’s going to remain in the room. It’s like Vegas. What happens here, stays here.”I gave it my best effort.
“It’s close, it’s close. Some of the guys on the team thought that’s what it meant to, but that’s actually not, no … I don’t think Pesce knows what it means.”
I also talked briefly with Nestrasil about the new postgame award. He explained his reasoning behind handing it off to Liles on Sunday.
“Last night after the game, me and Nordy, our first choice was Eddie, but Nordy was picking first, so I had to come up with someone else,” he said. “I actually kind of knew that was going to happen, so I already had another name in mind.”
To Nestrasil, the two awards have separate meanings.
“The fireman’s helmet for me means work ethic. That should be a work ethic award,” he said. “The belt, I don’t know, someone who gets a hat-trick or wins the game. We’ll see.”
The championship belt is in its infancy, and it sounds like the new piece of hardware and its place in Canes’ postgame victory lore may evolve over time …
… if you smell what the Canes are cookin’.
LINDHOLM NOT AT PRACTICE
Elias Lindholm did not skate with the team today at Prudential Center. Peters did not elaborate on Lindholm’s absence but said he would be a game-time decision for Tuesday night.
“We’ll dress everybody for warm-ups and we’ll either get the green light or the red light,” Peters said.
Lindholm has yet to miss a game this season, logging four goals and nine assists (13 points) in 36 games. As of late, he’s slotted in on the right wing alongside Eric Staal and Kris Versteeg.
Kris Versteeg forgot to take his skate guards off today before hitting the ice for practice, so then he literally hit the ice, tumbling to the ground with his feet in the air. Teammates smiled and laughed as assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour removed the guards. A smiling Versteeg lay on the ice, basking in his gaffe, before Justin Faulk helped him to his feet.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email