It's tough being the fan of a nonplayoff team -- right Caniacs? -- and being on the outside looking in. It's also tough being the team's beat writer.
What does the beat writer of a nonplayoff team miss the most about missing out on the playoffs?
-- The adrenaline rush of having Eric Staal score a go-ahead goal with 32 seconds left in Game 7 and your first deadline looming in, well, 32 seconds.
-- The explosion of noise at PNC Arena (then RBC Center) as Jussi Jokinen scores a game-winner with less than a second left. The building was shaking that night in '09.
-- Hopping on a 6 a.m. flight back to Raleigh the night after a road game (yes, even that can be fun in the playoffs).
-- Seeing Eric Staal and Andrew Ladd and a few of the (then) young Canes players being treated like rock stars by teenagers at an Edmonton mall in 2006.
-- Scott Walker's tears after a Game 7 overtime winner.
-- Standing by the glass when Ron Francis scores in overtime to give the Canes their first Stanley Cup final win.
-- Checking out the handmade signs on the grassy bank leading into the arena at home.
-- The quiet of the media room at TD Garden as Boston beat writers glumly report a series loss to the Canes. The "goobers" had won.
-- Tim Hortons at the morning skate.
-- Being in the room minutes after a Game 7 victory.
-- Lindy Ruff being gruff.
-- Ray Whitney being gruff. But, you know, almost always in a good way.
-- Finally, seeing the pure joy and satisfaction on Rod Brind'Amour's face as he raises the Stanley Cup. That can leave anyone speechless.
The Stanley Cup playoffs can leave everyone exhausted. Brind'Amour likened winning the Cup to climbing Mount Everest.
It's worth every bit of it. Maybe next year.