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Canes await schedule; home opener likely Jan. 22

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While everything is in flux and the NHL's upcoming regular-season schedule is ever-changing, it appears the Hurricanes will open Jan. 19 on the road against the Florida Panthers and play their home opener Tuesday, Jan. 22.

General manager Jim Rutherford, in a press conference Thursday, said the NHL regular-season schedules would not be announced until the NHL players had ratified the new collective bargaining agreement. The vote was to begin Thursday night and run through 8 a.m. Saturday.

Rutherford said he expected the home opener to be played at PNC Arena on Jan. 22 but said he was not sure of the opponent. While he confirmed the Canes would open on the road, he could not confirm if they would face the Panthers.

The first order of business will be training camp, which should begin Sunday with player physicals, then an afternoon practice session at Raleigh Center Ice. The team must quickly decide on a roster, which Rutherford said could include "at least" six or seven players who began the season with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL).

Defenseman Justin Faulk, one of the NHL's top rookies last season, will return from Charlotte. The Canes also could add either Justin Peters or Dan Ellis as a backup goalie. Others that could be in the mix are defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti and forwards Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuk, Zac Dalpe, Jeremy Welsh and Tim Wallace.

"For the most part, they've all had a taste of the NHL, most of them last year got their feet wet and I think they're an eager group," Canes coach Kirk Muller said.

Rutherford said the Canes still were looking for a player to give the third or fourth line "a little more grit." It's possible the team could look to make an early trade, although a trade could be simply to open up a roster spot for a Charlotte player.

Rutherford acknowledged that many people had been affected by the lengthy lockout, which he called "an unfortunate time." He said the team has marketing promotions planned to help win back disgruntled fans -- Rutherford said the Canes lost 7 percent of its ticket base during the lockout.

"You never know what to expect when these things happen," he said. "In the early going of the lockout, the percentage ... was between one and two percent. As we got closer to the holiday season that number grew."

Rutherford said seven percent was a "very low number" that underscored the loyalty of his ticket holders. He also said since Sunday's announcement of a CBA agreement, the Canes had been selling "a lot" of season tickets and hoped to gain back the seven percent loss and sell even more.

"We have some work to do," Rutherford said of rebuilding the ticket base. "I view it the same way as when we first moved here (from Hartford in 1997). We had to build our fans one by one, seat by seat. If that's what we have to do again, that's what we'll do."

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How about a fan statement?

Please see comment posted after the Peter Karmanos "letter"
Make a fan statement for 1 game!!!

Exactly!

I have been trying to get this same word out. One game! Home Opener! It IS the only way to make a statement about how the fans are disappointed with both sides and saying they need to think twice before having another Lock-out. I know that there are many people(fans) that could care less about making a statement and will show up with jersey's on and excitement in their voices but, I am hoping that enough people are willing to shun ONE GAME together to make a point.
As in every debate or argument, there are two sides. But in this one, there are three! The Owners, the Players, and the Fans! We have heard it all from the NHL and NHLPA, but the fans have really been quite. It's time they, the owners and players, hear our thoughts.

Please! For those that are really frustrated with the process that has taken place, please do not attend the first home game. One game!! That's all being asked!

After that...GO CANES!!!

Statement

I understand that making a statement like that can make you feel good, but what will it really accomplish? Even if all the arenas in the NHL were empty for opening night what would happen? The NHL would know that fans a pissed and they missed walk up revenue and rink revenue for one night. Will that change how they negotiate? Not a chance.

If folks stay away in droves for the entire season that will send a message. The response to that message would likely be to concentrate the league and shut down marginal markets like Carolina.

Everyone can and should do what they want, but I won't be staying away to make a point as I don't believe it will make one bit of a difference. If you want hockey in non-traditional markets you had better support it with your dollars.

We fans MUST continue support

As Canarse said above we Canes fans can only make the "small market haters" scream from the rooftop's ,if we start to boycott a still new franchise in the area ,and which yeah you can make a "statement" but while you make it you'll only fuel the fire of our franchise's critic's while only making thing's worse ,and even less if a difference at all ,so while your doing your personal protest I'll have more of a seat selection at PNC ,and I have to drive 5+ hrs ,and still I will attend at least 5 games this year ,and more ,If the team makes the post-season ,so quit pouting and let's go!...My Canes to do list -Center ice check ,Home opener check...Can't wait

More than you think!

As my belief is it will make a statement if people do not attend the first game, your belief is it will not accomplish anything. But, the only way to know is try! You nor I can predict the future but changing the variables by not attending the game vs attending is like playing the lottery. If you don't play you definitely won't win! So, if you don't try, you'll never know.
The Canes have a huge fan base and they are not going anywhere. Especially if every arena is empty on their opening night. I just feel the team and owners will think twice about a Lock-out next time if they were empty. Reason: Because if the fans can ban together and empty it for one night, think what they can do if another Lock-out did happen. We could ban together again and make it 5 nights!
If I don't try something to show how it affects you, then I would be nothing more than a brain-less pawn being controlled by the owners/players for their enjoyment.
But, as it's always said, opinions are like a-holes. Everyone got one!...Enjoy!

My View

I truly disliked everything about the CBA negotiations, from the strategy of locking out the players as a first choice, to Bettman's absurd first offer, to Fehr's unnecessary posturing. Even so, I was and remain an avid supporter of the Hurricanes organization.

I'm glad it's over and I'm ready to move on from the CBA negotiation fiasco. I am also ready and hopefully able not to look back.

I'm with you, but....

"dislike" is an understatement. It's been an incredibly frustrating 3 months. The lockout was one of most bonehead moves the NHL could have conceived. There is nothing like a fast start to the new season that will put the lockout in my rear view mirror. Let's (finally) drop the puck! Go Canes!

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at chip.alexander@newsobserver.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.
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