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Hurricanes Struggle To Earn More Than Bandwagon Support

Mike KlineAnalyst IApril 29, 2009

RALEIGH, NC - APRIL 19:  Fans of the Carolina Hurricanes cheer on their team as they play the New Jersey Devils during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 19, 2009 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. New Jersey won 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

It seems no matter what the Carolina Hurricanes do, they can't avoid the fact that a large portion of their fan base is made up of bandwagon fans.

It is truly unfortunate as they are the only one of the three North Carolina professional franchises that have won their sports championship.

Of the three professional sports franchises in North Carolina, only the Carolina Panthers have a seemingly strong and consistent fan base.

Despite that championship, the Hurricanes from the months of October through April, are for the most part an after thought in the minds of the local media and the fans.

Now I'm not saying there are no loyal, die-hard Hurricanes fans or sports talk personalities who support them, but in North Carolina there are other things preoccupying the minds of the sports fanatics.

College Football

While no team in North Carolina has been vying for a National Championship, the fan bases, aside from Duke who hasn't had a program until lately, are pretty strong. Not as strong as basketball, but at least fans show up regularly.

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North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest, and East Carolina have solid followings and over the last 10 years have had some decent seasons.

The football season, especially if the teams are bowl bound, continues to draw the interest right through New Years Day. This is a disadvantage for the Hurricanes, which have at times struggled to draw the interest of native southerners who aren't used to hockey.

College Basketball

It goes without saying that college basketball is the bread and butter of the North Carolina sports scene.

Between Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, and NC State, basketball consumes the passions of many fans during the months when the Hurricanes are kicking off their season.

Basketball season pretty much goes through the heart of the hockey season and few fans become heavily invested in hockey until their respective teams are done.

Only the Panthers, depending on how successful they are in a given year can rival, at least to a small extent, the interest of the fans. If they are bad, then fans quickly lose interest in them.

Not being a huge hockey fan, but respecting the sport nonetheless, the Hurricanes series with the Devils was thrilling and deserving of attention.

Home playoff games were heavily attended, if not sold out. However, the problem with that is, it's the only time when the Hurricanes can honestly boast that they have tremendous fan support.

I know the season is long, but a sell out raucous crowd in the middle of January, not just April, would be nice to see if you were a player or coach.

In April, many of the band-wagoners are still hung over from March Madness when they start turning their attention to the Hurricanes. If they look playoff bound, then attendance seems to creep up.

Many though probably couldn't even tell you who starts, who plays on what line, or maybe even who the coach is.

It is unfortunate as the Hurricanes arguably have had the most success of any of the professional franchises in the state.

The Panthers come closest, with one Super Bowl trip and a couple appearances in the NFC Championship game. But they have no Super Bowl wins.

Despite that they are more popular than the Hurricanes.

Walking down the street not counting college gear, you will see more Panthers t-shirts, hats, stickers and the like than the Hurricanes.

Now there are fans out there, but like many band-wagoners, they don't show up from day one.

And of course with band-wagoners you have to deal with those who, when they do show up, walk around with the arrogance and presumed knowledge that they just can't back up.

In the end it is an unfortunate situation for a team that has brought some great moments to the area.

On the bright side, at least the Hurricanes aren't the Bobcats, as I'm not sure they even have fans.

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