LOS ANGELES (FEB. 8, 2001) – What would drive a man to wake-up at 5:36 a.m. in Los Angeles after only four hours of sleep and make a call to Raleigh? A business deal? A family emergency?
For Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurcie, the answer is simple – a 17-4-2-0 record, a .783 winning percentage.
On Nov. 16, prior to a 1-0 win at Ottawa, Maurice called 96 Rock’s morning disc jockey Chopper Harrison at 8:36 a.m. Eastern Time for a brief interview. Prior to that day, Maurice’s first call to Harrison, the Hurricanes’ weekday record was 3-6-2-0 (.364). Since the gameday ritual began, the team has lost just four of 23 weekeday games.
Depending upon one’s opinion and belief in superstition, Maurice’s calls to Harrison could be an important factor in the Hurricanes’ 20-9-4-0 record in weekday games. Athletes, coaches and sports fans tend to put some stock into such phenomenon. Maurice and Harrison are no exceptions.
“I set my watch for 8:33 just to be sure,” said Maurice. “On the road, I do my standard ritual. Make sure I get a wake up call, set my watch alarm and the alarm clock. I have three layers of defense.”
Harrison is baffled at the success of the streak.
“This has gotten incredible,” said Harrison. “He’s just so psyched about it now. For a NHL coach to call a rock DJ at 5:30 in the morning, it’s incredible. Nobody else in professional sports would do that.”
Harrison’s show airs from 6 a.m. – 10 a.m., Monday through Friday on 96 Rock, 96.1 FM in the Triangle area.
To listen to Harrison, one might think he had followed the Hurricanes’ franchise since its beginnings. Actually, Harrison began his morning show in April 2000 when he relocated to Raleigh from Minneapolis, Minn. Harrison's show has become one of the most popular in the area according morning show ratings.
“It’s not about the ratings, it's about Hurricanes hockey,” said Harrison. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the ratings but, more importantly, I love to see people get out and watch hockey.”
Despite being a newcomer to the area, Harrison has developed a deep devotion for the Hurricanes and whole-heartedly believes in the team.
“I don’t want to be the kind of guy who sounds like he’s crazy and out of his mind, but I think they can go as far as they want to,” said Harrison. “The Stanley Cup Playoffs -- the Stanley Cup Finals. Remember the ’69 Mets.”
Perhaps more than anyone, Maurice recognizes Harrison’s importance to the Hurricanes and the positive exposure Harrison gives the team.
“Chopper has given us so much positive energy,” said Maurice. “He’s the guy responsible for our streak, not me.
“He’s been great for the awareness of the team as far as the people behind things,” said Maurice. “He’s really let the fans get to know the players as people.”
Along with his chats with Maurice, Harrison’s regular guests also include defenseman Dave Karpa, forwards Jeff O'Neill and Bates Battaglia and Hurricanes broadcasters John Forslund and Tripp Tracy.