It was Feb. 1. The Golden Knights had just dropped a 5-2 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes. And as the Knights trudged off the ice at the PNC Center in Raleigh, it was turn-the-page time and focus on the next game against the Florida Panthers the following night.
The Hurricanes, however, weren’t quite done.
They remained on the ice and celebrated the win. First, it started with a team clap of the hands that looked like something Iceland’s national soccer team does. But it morphed into a quick game of childhood favorite “Duck, Duck, Goose.”
They call it the “Storm Surge” in Carolina. Don Cherry calls it something else. Cherry, who is 85 and has had a bully pulpit for decades on the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada telecast, ripped the ‘Canes.
These guys to me are jerks. And I’ll tell you one thing, they better not do this in the playoffs.. . . This is a joke.
Young men expressing themselves for joy of winning. You don’t do this thing in professional hockey. What are these guys? Jerks or something?
I know what I’m talking about. You never do anything like that. They’re still not drawing. They’re a bunch of jerks as far as I’m concerned. Imagine Justin Williams doing stuff like that. -Don Cherry
The team obviously has a different point of view. Williams, the team’s captain, plays a major role in all this.
— Justin Williams (@JustinWilliams) October 8, 2018
And the coach doesn’t have a problem with the postgame celebrations.
We want to have fun when we win. The game should be fun. That’s why we’re doing it. I want the players to enjoy winning and the fans to enjoy being here. -Rod Brind’Amour, Hurricanes coach
My first thought when I saw the initial celebration earlier this year was, “What the hell is that?” But as the cellys became more creative and elaborate, I started to enjoy them. I hadn’t played Duck, Duck, Goose since I was a tyke back in the late 1950s. So I have to admit seeing a bunch of grown men doing it was pretty funny.
And the others are funny too. The fans offer suggestions, the players take them under advisement and then figure out what they’ll ultimately do.
Understand these “Storm Surges” take place after victories at home, long after the opposing team has left the ice. So the night of Feb. 1, all of the Golden Knights were in their locker room when the frivolity began, so none of them saw it.
These celebrations aren’t meant to show up the other team. It’s more to acknowledge the fans and show some appreciation for them turning out. And what’s wrong with that?
Understand that Carolina has been a struggling franchise for the past few years. The Hurricanes have ranked near the bottom in home attendance during that stretch. There was little to no joy in the building for those who actually bothered to show up.
But there’s a new owner in Tom Dundon and he is changing the culture in Carolina. The ‘Canes are winning. The fans are showing up. Home ice is suddenly an advantage. Hockey is once again fun.
Would the Knights ever entertain doing anything like this after a win at T-Mobile Arena? Probably not. I doubt general manager George McPhee would endorse such activity for his players. Ditto for coach Gerard Gallant. A postgame skate to the center circle and a stick salute to the fans is probably sufficient in GMGM’s and Turk’s eyes.
The Knights do have an over-the-top element to their home games. Their pregame entertainment has been the talk of the NHL for the first two years of their existence and they even revamped it recently with owner Bill Foley appearing in the video and bringing back the sword in the stone skit.
I don’t recall Don Cherry ripping that. Same for longtime hockey executive Brian Burke, who also has taken the Hurricanes to task for their Storm Surge celebrations. Burke branded it as “absurdly amateurish, pee-wee garbage stuff.”
I guess they must think that what you do before the teams hit the ice is your own business.
And it shouldn’t be any different postgame. If Hurricanes fans don’t want to stay to watch, they can leave. Virtually everyone does stay, though. And what they see is pretty hilarious, as long as you don’t look at it through a “Get off my lawn” prism.
And the team has a sense of humor about it all. They’re going to capitalize on Cherry’s rants with a line of “Bunch of Jerks” gear which you know is going to fly off the racks at the Hurricanes’ team store.
My hope is that this will remain the strict domain of the Carolina Hurricanes. We don’t need any knockoffs from other NHL teams, though I’m guessing a couple of teams will attempt to do their own “Storm Surge.”
This is their baby. They own it. And no one should rip them off. And if you don’t like it, there’s a simple solution — don’t give the Hurricanes a cause to celebrate. Beat them in their barn.
That’s what the Rangers did Tuesday night. It probably warmed Don Cherry’s heart. But was it enough for Cherry to root for the Rangers beyond Tuesday? Nah.
**Steve Carp is the author of “Vegas Born — The remarkable story of the Golden Knights.” Follow him on Twitter @stevecarp56. All of Steve Carp’s work here on SinBin.vegas is presented to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm. For over twenty-five years, the Jimmerson Law Firm has been widely recognized as one of Las Vegas’s preeminent full-service law firms. Specializing in high stakes business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson Law Firm has an unparalleled track record of winning when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and tell them SinBin.vegas sent you.**