Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Long may it wave

This right here is pure Hound Central history. Long before I even thought of doing a blog, I had the presence of mind to take a project-based approach to my hounding efforts. What we have here, though, is the first-ever project: a gale flag signed by members of the Carolina Hurricanes.

The project started in the 1997-98 season, right after the Hartford Whalers moved south and became the Carolina Hurricanes. Instead of playing in Raleigh, home games were 90 miles away at the Greensboro Coliseum.

After running out of cards and pucks (Hurricanes players are among the earliest of our 1,800-plus) for the players, I wanted to use something other than a jersey, stick or helmet. That's where this gale flag came in, serving a new purpose as more than 30 players signed it through the 1998-99 season.

This past Saturday brought the latest installment of Hurricanes players to sign the flag, primarily the team's Big Three on the black square:

Center Rod Brind'Amour

Center Eric Staal

Goalie Cam Ward

The trio joins these big names from the early days along Tobacco Road:

Hall of Famer center Ron Francis, now an associate head coach of the Hurricanes;

Hall of Famer defenseman Paul Coffey, shortly after being traded from Chicago;

Defenseman Steve Chaisson, God bless his soul;

Right winger Kevin Dineen, now head coach of the AHL's Portland Pirates; and

Goalie Arturs Irbe, now the goaltending coach for Dinamo Riga of the Kontinental Hockey League

Here's the complete lineup:

Bates Battaglia, Rod Brind'Amour, Steve Chaisson, Paul Coffey, Tim Conboy, Kevin Dineen, Nelson Emerson, Mike Fountain, Ron Francis, Martin Gelinas, Stu Grimson, Kevin Haller, Steve Halko, Dwight Helminen, Sean Hill, Arturs Irbe, Sami Kapanen, Dave Karpa, Peter Karmanos, Trevor Kidd, Andrei Kovalenko, Robert Kron; and

Randy Ladouceur, Curtis Leschyshyn, Craig MacDonald, Marek Malik, Kent Manderville, Paul Maurice, Kevin McCarthy, Jeff O'Neill, Nolan Pratt, Keith Primeau, Paul Ranheim, Steve Rice, Gary Roberts, Mike Rucinski, Jim Rutherford, Mike Ryan, Ray Sheppard, Eric Staal, Josef Vasicek, Cam Ward and Glen Wesley.

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