Hurricanes raise Stanley Cup banner before opener

Updated: October 4, 2006, 9:03 PM ET
Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. -- For one more night, the Carolina Hurricanes got the chance to celebrate the franchise's first Stanley Cup title.

The Hurricanes raised the banner for their Cup win Wednesday night before opening their title defense against the Buffalo Sabres, allowing themselves one more look back at a thrilling run to the first major professional sports title in North Carolina history.

"I just get chills thinking about it," alternate captain Kevyn Adams said. "Obviously, when you see your Stanley Cup ring or you look at a banner, you know all the things you went through. The memories are what you think about.

"It's time to turn the page in terms of what happened," he said. "At the same point you need to enjoy tonight, enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy everything that goes with it, but realizing we're setting out on a new journey."

The franchise held a 20-minute pregame ceremony to honor last year's champs, introducing members of the team's front office on a red carpet laid out on the ice in front of a standing-room-only crowd. The players followed, skating to the blue line and watching the scoreboard monitor above to see highlights from the postseason run.

The Hurricanes first unfurled banners commemorating their Southeast Division and Eastern Conference titles, then unveiled the 114-year-old Stanley Cup on a table set up on the ice. Finally, Adams, captain Rod Brind'Amour, veteran Glen Wesley and injured forward Cory Stillman joined team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. to fasten the Cup banner to hooks for its slow ascent amid a steady stream of popping photo flashes from the stands.

The Hurricanes received their championship rings during a ceremony Monday.

They earned the title by holding off the Edmonton Oilers, closing out the final series with a 3-1 win in Game 7 on June 19. Now, less than four months later, they're back on the ice knowing that they have to move on from last year's wild run.

That new pursuit began against the team the Hurricanes beat to reach the Stanley Cup finals.

"We've got the experience, we've got guys who will make sure everyone's focused and ready for this season," center Eric Staal said. "Obviously, we need to enjoy the festivities before the game, but once that puck drops, it's a new year and we need to get it done."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press