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NHL Carolina Hurricanes

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Carolina Hurricanes Fans

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5 Things You Didn't Know About Carolina Hurricanes Fans

intro
James Gullory - USA Today Sports

Fans of the Carolina Hurricanes call themselves "Caniacs," and often get a hard time from the rest of the NHL for being a small-market, non-traditional fan base. While Raleigh, N.C. has never been a huge hockey town, Hurricanes fans are famous for having made the game their own.

The Hurricane's home, PNC Arena, is shared with the basketball team of nearby NC State University. Having the team so closely intertwined with NC State as well as the large fan bases of both the University Of North Carolina and Duke University, many Hurricanes fans have adopted traditions. Yet some traditions and ways are completely unique to the Caniacs.

The Southern influence can be felt throughout PNC Arena during games. Vendors will serve barbecue sandwiches, boiled peanuts, sweet iced tea and will always offer slaw for the hot dogs. The teams mascot, a hog named "Stormy", tips the hat to the tradition of barbecue in the region.

Still, Hurricanes fans have been given a bad rap for not being New York, Boston, Philly, Detroit or Montreal. The small market and relative newness of hockey in the area had many in the NHL community wondering if North Carolina was a good place for an NHL franchise. Yet after two Stanley Cup Finals (one seeing the Hurricanes hoisting The Cup), a draft and an All Star Game, the local fans have proven themselves to be as dedicated and rabid as the fan base any other team in the league, sometimes more so.

Here's a look at some traditions that set Caniacs apart from the rest.

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They Invented The NHL Tailgate

tailgate
Jerry Lai - USA Today Sports

Brian Englbom once said "Every hockey fan should arrive at the arena draped in the team colors, well fed and just a little lubricated -- and that's exactly how they do it in Carolina!" The mild autumn and spring in North Carolina allows fans to tailgate before games, and they do it big. Any game day outside PNC Arena is filled with the smell of whole hog barbecue and the sound of cornhole being played.

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They're Fiercely Loyal To Specific Players

loyalty
Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports

While it's common for fans to latch onto one specific player, Hurricanes fans have raised this to an art form. Each fan has one specific player, and that's who they stick with -- for good. In addition to the wearing of the player's jersey, fans will often adopt specific player's habits or traditions -- as was the case with Mike Commodore and his famous robe in 2006. It's a regular occurrence for ice level fans to place phone numbers and birthday messages to specific players. There are many 6-8 year old kids in Raleigh named "Francis."

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They Don't Throw Anything On The Ice But Hats -- Ever

throwing
James Gullory - USA Today Sports

Detroit throws octopus, New Jersey throws rats, Nashville throws catfish ... it seems like many teams have traditional items to throw on the ice to celebrate. This is banned outright by Hurricanes fans. Caniacs strictly refuse to throw anything but hats onto the ice. In 2010, Eric Staal scored a hat trick on what was coincidentally Free Hat Night. It took the ice crew close to half an hour to remove all the hats. However, you'll see nothing else hit the ice. Ever.

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They Demand Accessibility From Players

accessibility
James Gullory - USA Today Sports

While many fans like getting up close to their favorite players, this is required in Carolina. Southern "small town" mentality rules in Raleigh, and PNC Arena is not exempt. Fans will line the players' exit after every single home game, staying there past midnight to see their favorite players. It's not enough for the players to smile and wave; they are expected to leave their cars, pose for photos and sign autographs. While most players enjoy the interaction with fans, some have refrained from this -- and have been promptly shunned by fans.

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They're Unusually Loud

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James Gullory - USA Today Sports

PNC Arena has often been called "The Loudest House In The NHL." This name was not from the fans. The great Don Cherry first coined the phrase during the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals. Fans have repeatedly broken world records for crowd noise, often exceeding the level of jet engines. Everything in PNC Arena is made to be loud. The pre-game Storm Siren, the goal horn accompanied by Ric Flair's "woo", and of course the fans. While some will brand Montreal as the loudest, they quickly recant once they see Hurricanes fans.