Prior to every home game, the Carolina Hurricanes employ a tradition of sounding the Hurricanes Warning Siren, usually done by some small local celebrity or athlete. Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, however, may bring the biggest name yet.
Now entering it’s fifth season, the siren — an actual air-raid siren — has become a staple of the Carolina game-day experience along with tailgating and even live music on the South Plaza during certain weekend games. Among others to have sounded the siren are Carolina Panthers’ superstar wide receiver Steve Smith, John Isner of the longest tennis match ever, and former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher, but none have the international fame of Nick Faldo.
Faldo’s presence at the game highlights the Hurricanes’ continued emergence into the mainstream.
For years, whenever the Hurricanes were mentioned on Sportscenter, it was always preceded by “the former Hartford Whalers”. But in just three seasons, the Hurricanes will have existed in the NHL for as long as the Whalers did. And Thursday, the Hurricanes played their 1200th NHL game since the move, enjoying a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals.
And let’s not forget the Cup win that brought into existence “Redneck Hockey” and playoff tailgating, which has now become an every game thing. It’s impossible to walk through the PNC Arena parking lot without seeing numerous tents, grills, and Cornhole boards, rain or shine.
Once chastised for being a “failed market”, the Hurricanes have watched their attendance soar over the years to a high of over 17,500 per game in 2012-13. And their move to the Metropolitan division should only serve to increase interest. No disrespect to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, but there are many more transplants from New York and Pennsylvania than there are from Florida.
Over the last 10 years, the Hurricanes have hosted both the NHL Entry draft and All-Star game. With the focus of the NHL world on Raleigh, the Hurricanes put on quite the show. Given Gary Bettman’s recent propensity of handing out “Winter Classics” like candy — six outdoor games in 2014 alone — though admittedly a longshot, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Hurricanes could find themselves involved in one down the road.
While Faldo isn’t the first siren sounder without ties to the area — Jim Craig of Miracle on Ice fame took a turn in March 2009 — the hope is that he will not be the last. The more the Hurricanes win, the more that opportunity will present itself.