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‘Who will hoist the cup?’ NHL.com proudly asks as it promotes it’s TV service. Well Uncle Gary, I hope for your sake it’s the St. Louis Blues because who really cares about a Sharks-Bruins final? Aside from Sharks and Bruins fans. Obviously. This post-season has been dominated by two talking points. Firstly the officiating, which has been discussed and critiqued ad-nauseum. Secondly, the giant-killing comedy of the Carolina Hurricanes.

They took the reigning champions Washington to a game-seven decider then blew away the Islanders in a clean sweep to reach the Eastern Conference final. Alas it wasn’t to be. The Storm Surge ran out of energy and fell to Boston.

With the final buzzer on Thursday the Canes were defeated, and with them died the renewed hopes of thousands of fans who’d long forgotten what good hockey was like in NC. Today there is no free BoBerry biscuit. Whatever the hell one of those is.

A few seasons ago, when The 4th Line Podcast adopted the Hurricanes as it’s official bandwagon team, and thereby immediately doubling its fanbase, we mocked. It had been years since the Canes had made the playoffs, and rooting for a team built around whichever of the Staal brothers wasn’t good enough for New York seemed like madness.

But in 2019, as team after team fell at the skates of Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, people started to switch on: that bunch of jerks might actually have a chance. Fans, bitter from missed playoff after missed playoff, emerged from the woodwork and dusted off their red and black jerseys. Somehow, it was OK to be a Carolina Hurricanes fan again.

It wasn’t just the locals either, as the season progressed and the team found itself under attack from those angry about the daft post-game celebrations, but this only made the team stronger. It embraced the criticism and pulled a solid season out of the bag. Suddenly there were bandwagon Hurricanes fans everywhere. The Storm Surge was real, and it was a blast while it lasted.

It hurts to get knocked out of the chase for the Cup, especially to Boston. I don’t know what it is that makes teams from New England so easy to hate, but it’s a thing. The big dog beat the underdog and the boring status quo has been returned.

Thank you Carolina for an absurd regular season and for bringing big teams to their knees. Your ridiculous antics were a beacon of light in a stuffy league that’s feels like it’s lost its way. The hockey world is worse off now that you’re now longer in it (until October).

Enjoy the golf.