History of the Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes trace their roots back to 1971 when they were known as the New England Whalers and played in the World Hockey Association (WHA). The franchise was a member of the WHA from 1972/73 to 1978/79, making the playoffs every season and winning the WHA Avco Cup in 1973. In 1979, the Whalers make their NHL debut and changed their name to the Hartford Whalers. After making the playoffs in their first NHL season, the new Whalers struggled in the next few seasons before they began a seven year stretch of consecutive playoff appearances starting in 1986. However, the Whalers never made it deep into the playoffs in any of those runs.

In 1997, the Whalers relocated to North Carolina where they are currently known as the Carolina Hurricanes. In their fifth year in their new home, the Hurricanes made a great postseason run due in large part to the terrific play of goaltenders Arturs Irbe and Kevin Weeks. The Hurricanes beat the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, and the Toronto Maple Leafs to advance to the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose in five games to the Detroit Red Wings. Four years later though, the Hurricanes would be back, and this time they would come out victorious. With breakout seasons from centers Rod Brind’Amour and Eric Staal, along with the emergence of rookie goalie Cam Ward, the Hurricanes compiled the best record in franchise history (52-22-8) and entered the playoffs as the number two seed. The Hurricanes defeated the Canadiens, Devils, and Buffalo Sabres before meeting the Edmonton Oilers in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. The Hurricanes were the favorites and quickly gained a 3-1 series lead, but the Oilers wouldn’t go down without a fight as they were able to force a game seven. The Hurricanes had a 2-0 lead after the second period, but the Oilers would cut the lead down to one with a goal at the start of the third period. After that goal, Ward didn’t allow any more, blocking the remaining nine shots. With just over a minute left in the game, Hurricanes’ winger Justin Williams netted an empty net goal to secure the cup for the Hurricanes. Ward became the first rookie goalie in 20 years to win the Conn Smythe, an award given to the playoff MVP.

Since their 2006 Championship season, the Hurricanes missed making the postseason in the next two seasons before rebounding in 2008/09 to capture the playoff’s sixth seed. The Hurricanes won two thrilling series against the Devils and the Boston Bruins before getting swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Since 2009, the Hurricanes have not made another trip back to the playoffs. The Hurricanes are currently led by Captain Eric Staal and head coach Kirk Muller.