Believe it or not, hockey has already begun in Raleigh. Informal workouts began Monday, as players flew in from all parts of the country to get back on ice in their Hurricanes jerseys.
Training camp won't begin until the second week of September, and the first preseason game won't be until September 19, but there is some good news for Caniacs waiting longingly for the '11-'12 season; there are 135 days of offseason down and only 42 to go.
Some new faces joined the Hurricanes offseason this summer. Center Tim Brent from Toronto and wingers Alexei Ponikarovsky (out of Los Angeles) and Anthony Stewart (from Winnipeg) join the Hurricanes freshly-strengthened offense. Brian Boucher, leaving from Philadelphia, will take over the backup goalie job, as well, and, in the most shocking signing of them all, big-name defenseman Tomas Kaberle was also added to the fold.
However, this summer will also mark the sad dates of the departures of two longtime Hurricanes: July 1, when Erik Cole signed with Montreal, and July 5, as Joe Corvo was traded to Boston. Though both of them have been traded before and eventually returned, we can only hope at this point that they'll both find their way back to Carolina in the future.
Whether the changes were for the better or worse (we prefer to think that it was the former of those), though, it's not hard to tell that the Carolina Hurricanes are going to enter the '11-'12 season with the end in mind, something they've struggled to do since their '06 Cup victory. Expect a lot of intensity from the Oct. 7th season opener all the way through Christmas, a stretch that generally causes some difficulties in Raleigh.
Meanwhile, it's not just the players that are looking forward to the start up the upcoming year; we writers are too. After analyzing the roster modifications that have been made, here are our six bold predictions for the Hurricanes' 2011-2012 season.