Thursday, June 01, 2006

Oh, Billy!

This may be hard for DeJo to hear, but I’m totally rooting for the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Finals. And it’s all for Billy.

Listen, my best friend Bill Purdy lived in Colorado his entire life up until 1996. May 23, 1996 to be exact. That was the day my father had open-heart surgery and my best friend left the state - a tough day to forget. Bill’s job took him out to Charlotte, NC. This die-hard Bronco fan, and new Avalanche fan, never got to live in the town of a world champion. As soon as he left Colorado, the Avs brought the first world title, the Stanley Cup, to this town. 2 years later, the Broncos won the first of back-to-back Super Bowls. Bill was watching an expansion Panthers team and a recently moved Hurricanes team (the former Hartford Whalers) that nobody wanted.

Bill almost saw glory in the last few years as the Panthers lost a Super Bowl and the Hurricanes lost in the finals of the Stanley Cup on a goal by Brett "In the Crease" Hull. Again, Billy knew nothing but heart break in professional sports for his home team. Now residing in Raleigh, Billy has become a Caniac, and after their thrilling game 7 Eastern Conference Finals victory last night at the RBC Center in downtown Raleigh, I think it should be his turn.

I have nothing against DeJo or the Edmonton Oilers - big fan of both actually. But as DeJo grew up in the Gretzky, Messier, Kuri era, Billy had to sit through the Shawn Moore, Clarence Kay, Larry Canada years.

So, for you Billy, all I can say is - GO CANES!


DEJO said...

Well, I s'pose that's a reasonable excuse to cheer for the 'Canes. I will cheer with all my heart for my beloved Oilers. A lot of the experts are already counting the Oilers out and I've seen this every round of the playoffs so far, so I'm not detracted. GO OILERS GO!

And after having just returned from a week in Edmonton yesterday, I have to admit I have never seen any city with as much support for their playoff team as the city of Edmonton. I would estimate 25-30% of all vehicles are sporting some kind of Oilers merchandise, and plenty of business have signs of support also. You can't get around town without seeing it. It's quite inspiring. If only those drunken idiots on Whyte Ave. weren't spoiling our good name.

So, if you happen to see a dark red Durango driving around the Denver area carrying an Oilers flag, that will be me, doing my own little part to support my team!

Aaroncoal said...

I stopped caring about the Avs after Patrick Roy left.

Bill Purdy said...

Dejo, I was in San Jose for a week during the Sharks' series with Nashville, and in the whole of the time I was there I never noticed even a single item emblazoned with a Sharks logo -- not a t-shirt, not a bumper sticker, not even a billboard. Here, in the NASCAR-lovin' South, I can't drive somewhere without seeing at least one car sporting 'Canes flags (mine sports two, a noisy distraction but one well worth it). Outside of Edmonton and Raleigh few people will care about this series, but we (your fans and ours) certainly show our support locally.

I'm lucky to have picked this year to become a 'Canes fan, something that would never have happened had the league played games last year. The lockout opened the door for me to change my allegiance from the Avs (who play far from Raleigh to a cynical, jaded, and IMO vaguely hostile crowd) to the 'Canes (who play in a surprisingly loud building to a crowd that -- even last night -- includes children as young as two months old and which ADORES its team).

I bought the 24-game package in the lower bowl, in the corner behind the opposing goaltender 2 of 3 periods, for a reasonable $42 a seat. And though I couldn't get my wife, Beth, to tear herself away from our young toddler for many games, I had plenty of opportunities during the season to turn several hockey naifs into 'Canes fans specifically, and hockey fans in general.

My Caniac status was cemented at an October game versus the Flyers. The 'Canes came back from a 2-0 deficit, and a 5-3 deficit, to win the game 8-6. It was the perfect advertisement for the new-look NHL, where a two goal lead can be erased in a heartbeat (and was, many times, throughout the season). It was also a perfect advertisement for this team, which showed me even at that point in the young season they had the ingredients champions are made of.

So, I'll be watching at least two Stanley Cup Finals games from Section 128, Row Y of the RBC Center. I'm sure you'll see me on TV (if you decide to watch the games). I'll be the one in a 'Canes sweater (Brindy's, to be exact, though I'm hoping for an Erik Cole sweater before it's all over), screaming my head off. You cannot miss me.

Oh, and in case you want to know, it'll be 'Canes in 5 (I'll give the Oil a game so I can watch my boys skate with the Cup in our own building).


DEJO said...

I'm glad to hear that 'Canes fever is rampant in your area, Bill. That really is good news. I wonder if the league should be learning lessons from how these small-market teams have such fan support.

During the regular season, I felt the 'Canes performed better partly because they played in what I would consider a weak division. Second place in the Southeast division normally would put you in fifth in the Northwest division, the consistently tightest division around over the last few years. But now that they have made it to the "Big Dance", they have proven they have the mettle to be vying for the Stanley Cup.

One concern I have is the Oilers have been out of action for too long. A few days rest is good to help a team recover. But 8 days? That's too much. I actually was hoping the Oilers wouldn't finish the Ducks so quickly in order to prevent too much downtime. I wished for them to lose Game 4 and they did. But they still ended up with a long break.

'Canes in 5, eh, Bill? Care to put some money behind that claim?

Bill Purdy said...

The SE division wasn't exactly strong this year -- the 'Canes had it pretty much locked up in January with a 18-point lead over Tampa Bay (they eventually won it by 20 points, with a total of 112 -- 3rd in the league behind Detroit and Ottawa). That said, even lowly Washington gave the 'Canes fits, and the SE division games -- while interesting to few outside the cities in which they were played -- were among the most competitive (and, occasionally, shocking... Atlanta handed the 'Canes a 9-0 loss at the RBC). Tampa Bay finished with 92 points, btw -- which would have had them tied for fourth in the NW, just 3 points behind your beloved Oil. Edmonton was a wash within the NW division this season, going 15-15-2 against NW Division opponents. 'Canes were 18-11-3 in the SE, which suggests their schedule was probably tougher than you think it was.

I also feel obliged to point out that the 1st place team in the SE went on to the Stanley Cup Finals in three of the last four seasons (including this one). The SE 1st place team won the Cup last time around, and it will win it this year, by my prediction, in five games.

But the SE wasn't the weakest division in the NHL. For that, you have to look at the Central, where both Detroit and Nashville took advantage of their "division rivalry" schedules and racked up schedule points at the expense of bottom feeders Columbus, St. Louis, and Chicago. Then, as one might predict, both those teams got knocked out of the playoffs when they faced consistently strong opponents.

The NW wasn't a particularly strong division, either, but I will agree it was the most competitive. In any case, this series promises to be interesting (and, despite my prediction, hard to predict), because the SE and the NW didn't play each other this year. In fact, Edmonton hasn't played a game in Raleigh since 2001.

As for a wager, sure. You're on. But I think betting for money is foolish, so we'll have to come up with something else. Patrick, have any ideas?


Pat Angello said...

OK, loser must create their ultimate mixed CD for the winner, with a full set of liner notes to be posted on the PAFC. Cheap, easy, satisfying to both of you as I know you both are kinda music freaks.

DEJO said...


And let's not restrict it to the Oilers losing in 5. As long as the Hurricanes become this year's Stanley Cup Champions I will put together an ultimate mix CD. And if the Oilers are this year's Stanley Cup winner, Bill will provide me his ultimate mix CD.

[Extends cyber-hand to shake with Bill...]

Pat Angello said...

I just spoke with Bill, who is currently driving to SC, and he's in. He said to make the font large because his eyes aren't so good. He's a little cocky on this one!

Beth Purdy said...

Any revisions on this bet with Roloson out for the series?

Everything you ever wanted to know about Pat Angello - sorry!