Popular hockey analyst and former NHL general manager Brian Burke has found himself on one end of a rivalry with the Carolina Hurricanes and their fan base following comments about the Canes’ new post-game win celebrations.
The celebration, that’s affectionately been dubbed the Storm Surge, is a new player-driven initiative that emerged as a way to commemorate wins at home with the fans.
In lieu of the traditional post-game stick salute after a win at home, the Carolina Hurricanes players line up at center ice and the star player of the night starts a slow clap and leads the team in a playful ensemble, most commonly a rush down the length of the ice to the boards. It made waves throughout the hockey twittersphere after its debut earlier this season, following a 8-5 win against the New York Rangers at the PNC Arena in Raleigh. It was their first win at home and the tradition has continued on ever since in varying levels of elaboration, changing a bit every time.
In a roundtable discussion with Sportsnet about the new tradition, Burke stated “I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s professional, I don’t think it belongs in our league.” While he does give a disclaimer that this is just his opinion and he’s allegedly not trying to take this away from the team and their fans, he follows it up with: “I turn the TV off when they win! I switch to another game. I think it’s absurdly amateurish, pee-wee, garbage stuff.”
He was promptly met with criticism and even some clapbacks from the organization itself.
Lifelong Canes fan Emmalee Todd says “I get that it’s hard to see years of tradition change. I can understand why folks like Brian Burke might think this kind of celebration doesn’t look ‘professional’: it’s not what they’re used to. But honestly? I haven’t had that much fun at a game in years.”
Todd, who went to the game on Friday, November 23rd where the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Florida Panthers also stated:
“It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that kind of energy in PNC Arena. Who knows what made this game different from other regular-season wins in other years, but the jubilation in the crowd as the third period progressed was almost something you could reach out and touch, and you could tell how much the team was feeding off of their enthusiasm. Watching that game, you could absolutely tell why the Storm Surge exists. It gets the team and the crowd celebrating together, mutually rejoicing in the win.”
Dylan, a self proclaimed Angry Caniac, echoes the sentiment. “The Carolina Hurricanes are doing something post win that includes the fans, because the fans are just as important to that victory. Their energy also affects players, both home and away, it’s why it’s called home ice advantage. [Look at] the game last night against the Florida Panthers and how loud and vocal that crowd was, you want that every night, so you do something that has the potential to draw more people in.”
He told me Brian Burke’s comments are not unlike other criticism he’s heard from sports media when it comes to teams in non-traditional hockey markets that try to do something new. “For the people who agree with Burke, [I ask]; would you be mad if this were a team like the Rangers, or maybe the Penguins doing it?”
Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time Burke has been accused of sucking the fun from this organization. Burke’s first NHL GM position was with the franchise’s previous iteration, the Hartford Whalers, during their 1992-93 season. Under his management, the team got rid of its iconic theme song, the Brass Bonanza—also known as the Hartford Whalers Victory March. This is something the Carolina Hurricanes are bringing back too, at least for one night, as they plan to pay tribute to their roots with a Whalers Night on Dec. 23 in Raleigh.
Unfortunately for Burke, the Canes, whose twitter bio is currently “Making hockey fun again,” doesn’t seem to be looking to tone down their post-win team cellys anytime soon.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of this initiative. This was something new captain Justin Williams came up with and it turned into something huge. All eyes are on Carolina right now and while their latest Storm Surge came after a defeat against my favorite team, I cannot deny that it was incredibly fun to watch and very heartwarming as someone that’s been rooting for them for a long time. In the past, they’ve struggled with fan engagement and now the team isn’t just winning games, they’re giving their fans a chance to be a part of something special whenever they go out to see them and they’re making their presence known in the league.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I better start looking into booking some tickets to Raleigh to see this for myself.