Here's how I envision a conversation about the Carolina Hurricanes going, about pretty much any season in their history, including the one time I would have been wrong about them, in their surprising and unlikely Stanley Cup-winning season in 2006:
1: It's too bad about the Hurricanes, eh?
1: That they're still the Hurricanes, and won't amount to much this season. Or ever.
Don't get me wrong, I have tremendous faith that their current crop of young defensemen will be very good, either as the Québec Nordiques or on different teams because you can't put two-thirds of your salary cap on just six players whose job isn't to get the puck on the opposite net as much as keep it off their own. Especially on a team that doesn't spend to the cap.
But for too long, the Canes have relied on too few offensive players - and usually the wrong ones. Jeff Skinner has been a magnet for disappointment since concussion issues took their toll; Eric Staal aged at a 2:1 ratio; Jordan Staal is a very good second-line center at best; and the rest of their forwards are usually scraps signed at a huge discount because they have just disappointed one or (too) many teams (Lee Stempniak, Alexander Semin).
Their goalies are usually overrated (Cam Ward, Trevor Kidd, Eddie Lack), and their defense has been made up of has-beens for a while now (Ron Hainsey, hi; hello, James Wisniewski) before they started drafting right (Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin). Which has some people optimistic about next season.
It's like they started building themselves an identity around two-way tough players like Rod Brind'Amour and Keith Primeau, then changed their minds, then just sucked for no reason other than mismanagement and not being able to afford either talent or talent-seekers.
Just like the Hartford Whalers never amounted to much, so did the Canes when the team left Connecticut for Greensboro, then Raleigh. Urgh.
Speaking of Primeau, here he is looking uncomfortable in the Canes' white (then-home) uniform, on the signed insert version of card #23 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set:
sued by his children for money relating to the franchise, which could spell relocation within the next couple of years.