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A brief history: Carolina Hurricanes

by Michael Stainkamp
The Carolina Hurricanes joined the NHL in 1979 as the Hartford Whalers and moved to their current home in Raleigh, NC in 1997.

The Hurricanes brought immediate success during the 1998-99 season when they won the Southeast Division by 8 points and made their first playoff appearance since 1992. They were eliminated in the first round by the Boston Bruins.

The Hurricanes made the playoffs in 2001 and faced the defending Stanley Cup champions, the New Jersey Devils. Even though they lost the series, they came back from a 3-0 deficit to force a sixth game, and many believe that series marked the start real hockey in the Research Triangle and the Entertainment and Sports Arena.

The following year, the 'Canes won the division and made it through a couple of tough series against the Devils and the Montreal Canadiens. Game 4 of the second round is today known as the "Miracle at Molson" by Hurricanes fans. Down 2–1 in games and 3–0 in score, Carolina would tie the game and then win on Niclas Wallin's overtime goal, and eventually win the series. They went on to beat the heavily-favored Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference Finals and won the series in six games, sending the team to the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. The ride was over quickly, as the Detroit Red Wings ended the 'Canes' magical season in five games.

The next two seasons the Hurricanes dropped to the basement of the NHL and weren't a factor at all. That all changed in the 2005-06 season when they finished with their best season in the franchise's 34-year history. They broke their previous franchise-best 94 points with a whopping 112 points, finishing one behind Ottawa in the East. They also finished 20 points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning to take home their third Southeast Division crown.

The 'Canes beat the Canadiens in the quarterfinals, beat the Devils in the semifinals, beat the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference Finals and took on the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final. It was the first time in NHL history that two former World Hockey Association teams faced off in the Final.

The series went to a decisive Game 7 in front of the second-largest home crowd in North Carolina (18,978). The 'Canes won, 3-1, giving them their first Stanley Cup. Goalie Cam Ward won the Conn Smythe Trophy, becoming only the fourth rookie to win the award. Glen Wesley, the only remaining Whaler on the Hurricanes roster, hoisted the Cup for the first time in his 18-year career.
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