Fans greet, snap up tickets for 'Cardiac Canes'
Posted May 15, 2009 6:21 a.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2009 3:46 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Hours after the biggest welcoming crowd Coach Paul Maurice said he's ever seen greeted the Carolina Hurricanes early Friday, hundreds more fans lined up to buy tickets for the Eastern Conference finals.
Maurice said he was astonished by the size of the crowd that greeted the exhausted Canes after their 3-2 overtime win over the Boston Bruins. WRAL meteorologist Greg Fishel was among the hundreds of Caniacs who stormed Raleigh-Durham International Airport for the team's arrival.
"If you were sitting on that bus, you would have thought we lost the game, and then there was an unbelievable reception at the airport," Maurice said. "We thought there was no chance, it's 3 a.m. But we had a whole crew of people cheering for the guys."
Fans expressed no surprise at the cliff-hanger ending to the series the Canes once lead 3-1.
"You kidding me? This is normal. This is Canes country. This is who we are," Joe Greiner said.
Bonnie Good brought a sign saying "Cardiac Canes," because, she said, the team "always makes you wait till the last minute before they bring it home."
Canes forward Scott Walker, who scored the game winning goal in overtime Thursday, said he loves coming home to excited fans and his family.
"That's what makes it easy to play, you know, when you come home and the crowd's so good and it's just amazing," Walker said. "Winning a game with all the great guys on the team is fun, but getting home and seeing your kids is a thrill."
Later Friday, hundreds of fans stormed the RBC Center to pick up tickets for Games 3 and 4 of the East Conference finals. By noon, tickets to Game 3 were almost sold out.
If the series, which opens Monday in Pittsburgh, lasts long enough, the Canes will play again in Raleigh in Game 6.
"This is what the dividends are. This is what you want. This is where you want the organization to get to," said Dave Olsen, general manager of the RBC Center.
Olsen said he hopes Hurricanes keep going farther in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The facility depends on the Canes making the playoffs to turn a profit, and the team hasn't been there for the past two years, he said.
The RBC has only booked six of the 10 slots it has for touring acts, so the longer the Canes keep playing, the better it is for the RBC Center and the people who work there, Olsen said.
"This helps. It's great for everybody. It's great for the community," he said. "Our employees get to work another five, six events that we wouldn't had had this time of year."
However long it takes, fans predicted victory for the Canes.
"They're overachievers. They don't have a big payroll, but they know how to beat the big boys," Charlie Bruce said.