There is no better place in hockey in the United States than Carolina deep in the playoffs. The coterie of fans swells in the spring — currently the Hurricanes, outside a playoff spot, are drawing at a little less than 90 percent of capacity — and it treats each game like an event, tailgating as if it were North Carolina playing N.C. State in Carter-Finley Stadium across the parking lot from RBC Arena. In Game 7 of the 2006 final against Edmonton, there was no one in the seats at the rink. The reason: fans stood the entire game. Cameron Crazies met Caniacs. In the past decade, the NHL has not had a more delightfully organic moment.
Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos expressed it well: after reaching a Stanley Cup final in 2002, winning the Cup in 2006 and serving impressively as All-Star host, Raleigh has crossed the divide from non-traditional hockey market to traditional hockey market.
* R.F.D. (R.F.D stands for “Rural Free Delivery”, a quaint postal depiction of the rural Mayberry community) is a spin-off and direct continuation of The Andy Griffith Show under a new title. [LINK]