NHL Lockout

Hurricanes have knack for making most of rare playoff runs

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In that magical run to the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup victory, the Washington Capitals finally broke a cycle of fantastic regular seasons followed by heartbreaking finishes. Finally, the Capitals made good, in part because they consistently gave themselves a chance by winning division titles, if not the Presidents’ Trophy.

The Carolina Hurricanes introduce some really fun contrasts to the Capitals, including being the analytics darling while Washington often transcends those numbers.

But an even more tantalizing narrative is a “David vs. Goliath”-type underdog story, as the Hurricanes haven’t tasted the postseason since 2008-09.

(For some perspective: the Capitals have only missed the playoffs once [in 2013-14] since 2007-08.)

Give the Hurricanes this much, though: they have an uncanny knack for making the most of their rare playoff runs. It’s something to think about as the series begins with Game 1 in Washington on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. ET (USA; live stream).

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

This is just Carolina’s sixth playoff appearance since moving from Hartford and becoming the Hurricanes in 1997-98, yet they conjured some magic in their last three appearances. Consider those three stretches, from oldest to newest:

  • In 2001-02, the Hurricanes made it to the 2002 Stanley Cup Final, falling 4-1 to the Detroit Red Wings. With 91 points during the regular season, Carolina beat out the Capitals for the Southeast Division title, but the team nonetheless felt decidedly scrappy. Current coach Rod Brind’Amour was an alternate captain.
  • After that run, the Hurricanes failed to make the playoffs for two straight seasons, before the 2004-05 season was canceled because of a lockout. The Hurricanes then won the Stanley Cup during the zany 2005-06 season. Many remember this as a weak team for a champion, but some forget that they finished the season with 112 points, the second-highest total in the East that season. Eric Staal topped all scorers with a breakthrough 100-point season, Brind’Amour was the captain and two-way beast, and Cam Ward won the Conn Smythe.
  • The Hurricanes then missed the playoffs for two straight seasons before returning to the postseason in 2008-09, their last appearance until the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Carolina won two playoff rounds before being swept by the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final. Brind’Amour was … still captain.

So, in the Hurricanes’ last three playoff runs, they’ve won nine playoff series, and lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions both times they failed to win it all. That’s pretty good bang for your buck, huh?

It’s also worth noting that Brind’Amour has been involved in those three runs, which … *arches eyebrow*

None of this is to say that the Hurricanes will go deep during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as they’re considerable, justifiable underdogs against the defending champions in Round 1, just to begin. Still, it’s remarkable how this franchise has made the most of these appearances in the past.

Hurricanes – Capitals Game 1 from Capital One Arena will be Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on USA Network. You can stream it here.

For more on these two teams, check out the series preview. Get a rundown of Thursday’s full slate of Game 1 action with The Wraparound.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Twitter rant: Barch goes off on owners

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New Jersey Devils tough guy Krys Barch raised some eyebrows Saturday night with a lengthy, emotional Twitter rant that took aim at NHL owners.

The 32-year-old winger posted a series of lockout-related tweets that began at approximately 10:30 p.m. ET and went on for over an hour.

Barch’s message, in full (everything sic’d):

I sit here from Gand Bend, Ontario putting a pen to my heart and writing on paper what bleeds out. My name is Krys Barch. I have played approx. 5 ½ years in the NHL and have worked for every second of it. I Haven’t been a 1st round pick, bonus baby or a son of a hall of famer. I have made it through sweating, bleeding, cut Achilles, broken hands, concussions, broken orbital bones, 8 teeth knocked out, etc, etc, etc.

I sit in front of a fire, 8 OV deep and starting a bottle of Porte that will assist in the translations of my emotions into words! No different than a truck driver, farmer or line worker I have a shot and a beer. Not to deal with the days ahead but to ease the nerves from what my body has endured the days before.

I sit here with both my boys sleeping and my wife due with our 3rd. My thoughts racing on what I can conquer tomorrow to get our family ahead. Some times wonder if I should have existed when a word and a gun solidified and solved all problems. I feel the Wild West would more simplified than the world we live in now whet an employer who makes billions of dollars and a league with record revenues can tell me that I can’t do the things that my heart tells my me to do!

All what my heart tells me to do far surpasses what my body has endured. As I write this I dive deeper and deeper into my bottle of Porte giving wider views to the depths of my heart. As my pen warms from the fire, Neil Young and a fall Canadian night, I wonder how this work stoppage effects the owners?

I wonder if the owners of Boston, New York, Washington etc, etc, have endured any of the injuries that I or any other player in the NHL have endured. Still they probably sit there smoking the same brand of cigar, sipping the same cognac, and going on vacation to one of the five houses they own…While we sit here knowing they want to take 20% of our paychecks.

One half to 3/4 of my peers will have to work for the next 50 years of their lives. Congratulations to the lucky select few that I have played with who have made salaries that they can choose to do whatever they want when they are done. But I have played most who do not!

If the NHL wants to teams in the south or struggling markets than the players along with the financially well to do teams need to start working together. Or they need to start to move the teams to the North where they will make money. The system allows the owners to continually take money from the players contract after contract where eventually over 40 some years the owners will have 80% of revenue. The only way to stop the work stoppages long into the future is fix the root cause of the problems.

The lockout is a procedure to take from the players to pay for the NHL mistakes. Let not allow the NHL to make any mor mistakes. Let the league and the players to come together to fix the mistakes that have been made and make sure non are made in the future. Lets get a deal where the owners, players, and fans benefit from. We’re we can be sitting around in beautiful Canadian fall’s around a fire playing and watching the game we love. Here’s to the truth and our next conversation. As always speaking from my heart! Goodnight! Like me or hate me I speak what comes from my heart!

Barch then logged off Twitter and placed a frantic call to Rod Tidwell.

It’s official — we have a lockout

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The NHL’s collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET. With the two sides unable to reach a new agreement and owners unwilling to continue under the old one, the players are now officially locked out.

(Pause for dramatic effect)

This is the league’s fourth work stoppage in the last 20 years and its second in the last seven.

There’s no way of getting around it — today is a bad day for hockey, especially for the fans. Nobody wanted labor unrest to come to this.

But it has, which means it’s time to start the process of acceptance.

The first order of business? Venting! Yes, now is the opportune moment to commiserate and PHT’s comments section is the place to do it. Go ahead and express yourselves (not unlike Madonna. Or, N.W.A.)

Lay blame, share feelings, validate experiences, instill hope, show support, put aside your petty beefs and hey, maybe even express solidarity among folks you normally consider enemies. Looking at you, Flyers and Penguins fans.

As for when this thing might actually end? Here are a few key dates to keep in mind.

Sept. 23: Start of preseason

Oct. 11: Start of regular season

Nov. 23: 2012 Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown (Rangers vs. Bruins)

Jan. 1: NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium (Leafs vs. Red Wings)

Jan 24-28: All-Star Weekend in Columbus

Feb. 17: Hockey Day in America (Red Wings vs. Wild, Penguins vs. Sabres, Bruins vs. Blackhawks, Flyers vs. Rangers)

Finally, here are some facts about past NHL work stoppages.

2004-05 lockout: Lasted 310 days, 1,230 games missed. The entire season was lost and it marked the first time since 1919 (flu epidemic) that the Stanley Cup wasn’t awarded. It also marked the first time a major North American sports league lost an entire season to a labor dispute.

1994 lockout: Lasted 104 days, 468 games missed. The season was shortened to 48 games (there was no All-Star game) and the revamped schedule included the regular season extending into May, the first and only time that’s happened in league history. Regular season games were limited to inter-conference play, meaning Eastern Conference teams did not play Western Conference teams.

1992 strike: Lasted 10 days, no games missed. The strike began with 30 games left in the regular season and all 30 were played.