The trade deadline is on Monday and the Hurricanes are about where most people expected them to be. They’re a bubble playoff team. Not quite there yet but they can make the playoffs if they finish the year strong. Everything is going to plan. There’s no reason to panic.
Except we’ve seen this movie before.
This is what the Hurricanes do. They always stay close enough to the playoff picture and look like a team that is on the rise. Then they lose a tough game (usually to a division rival) and that sets off a chain of suck. One loss turns into two, then three, then four, then five and the next thing you know, they’ve won two out of their last 10 games and are virtually eliminated from playoff contention. It happened in 2013 when they won a total of eight games in March and April combined, it happened last year when they lost 14 out of 18 games in January and Feburary and they are continuing that trend this year.
The Hurricanes have lost five games in a row (eight out of the last 12) and haven’t won a divisional game since January 11th. The most frustrating part about it isn’t the losing, though. It’s the fact that they haven’t looked remotely competitive in any of these games. They’ve looked disinterested, lazy and have played some truly pathetic hockey. It’s the brand of “Hurricanes hockey” that most people know. Anemic offense, refusal to go to net to score, terrible goaltending and a team that flat out doesn’t win. Last night’s 3-1 loss against the Red Wings was a prime example of it. They started off well, gave up a goal and looked disinterested for the rest of the game.
They’re a frustrating team to root for because they do a lot of the “right” things. They’re trying to build through the draft, they’ve made some smart trades and they don’t get involved in a lot of the desperate panic trades/signings that happen every year. It’s all well and good until you look at the results and see that this team is exactly where they started eight years ago. They’re a 9th-13th place team that NEEDS almost everything to break their way to even sniff a wild card spot.
With that, you have a fanbase that’s apathetic and generally losing interest. This process has been building for years, as Red Seat Night at the PNC Arena has been a common theme for awhile, and it’s reached the tip of the iceberg this year. It’s not fun to watch games even when the team wins because everyone’s just going to be snapping at each other over how Derek Ryan is bad or about how Cam Ward let in another goal high-glove side or how the wrong player was called up from Charlotte or the million other things that seem to set everyone off now. This isn’t even getting to the people who bombard your mentions with their 20 step rebuild plan for the Canes that you absolutely do not care about. Either way, I had enough of it years ago and it’s probably my main desire to see the team win again.
The fanbase is toxic and pessimistic because the team gives them no real reason to think otherwise. When you’re out of the playoffs every year and constantly hear the message of “we like our group” then yes, your fanbase has a reason to be cynical maybe not trust the process anymore. The new owner has talked about not wanting to be patient and while that’s nice to hear, who knows how much of a say he has on hockey operations or if he will change anything. I want to believe that he won’t stay complacent with how the team has performed since he took over, but I’ve also seen this movie before and the ending always sucks.
I started watching hockey because it was a fun sport to follow and escape from general stresses. I used to be able to have a good time watching a game even if the Canes lost but somewhere along the line, watching this team became super stressful. Not sue if it’s the constant losing, the bullshit relocation rumors, getting into arguments everyday when I ran Shutdown Line or just becoming jaded, but watching this team isn’t enjoyable anymore. I want to be around for when (if?) this team ever turns the corner but at the same time, I’m just tired of caring about them and getting upset over nothing every other day or how often it is the Hurricanes play now.
I feel silly writing this because at the end of the day, it’s something I don’t have any control over and no one is forcing me to be a fan of a team that does nothing but frustrate the living hell out of me. There’s still people on the Hurricanes who I want to see succeed and they would need to something really stupid to get me to stop rooting for them, but there comes a time where you just need to step away and take a break.
Mine probably should have happened a long time ago with all of the other stuff I’m doing now, but I still watch almost every Hurricanes game and try to stay optimistic even when shit is bad. It’s just tough to do that now and barring something interesting happening at the deadline, I’m going to need to take a step back for the rest of the year. I don’t know if that makes me a bad fan or whatever, but following this team is a chore and it shouldn’t be that way.