By John Trump
Raleigh, NC – The National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoffs start this weekend, and, as it turns out, the Carolina Hurricanes are one of the best teams in the league, albeit in a shortened 56-game season.
Gov. Roy Cooper often professes his love for the Canes, who host the Nashville Predators on Monday. Cooper, too, often wears a mask emblazoned with the logo of the Raleigh team, which finished with 80 points, tied for second-best in the NHL.
N.C. Republicans, however, are asking the governor to prove his loyalty.
Senators Amy Galey, R-Alamance, and Lisa Barnes, R-Nash, on Thursday, May 13, in a letter urged Cooper to reverse his decision to reject the Hurricanes’ application to increase capacity limits during their upcoming playoff run, a news release says.
First-round games at PNC Arena are already sold out.
In the letter, the senators write: “We implore you, let North Carolinians celebrate this championship season and enjoy playoff hockey in the Loudest House in the NHL by approving the Hurricanes’ submitted plans.”
About 6,000 fans will be allowed into PNC Arena in Raleigh, according to reports, while the Predators will have 14,000 fans for games in Nashville. Other potential playoff opponents Tampa Bay and Florida — in Miami — will be closer to 50% capacity.
The NHL, The Athletic reports, missed out on almost $3.6 billion in revenue this season from ticket sales and in-arena purchases because of attendance restrictions.
Hurricanes Coach Rod Brind’Amour told the News & Observer, “That’s a big advantage, there’s no doubt about it. Obviously, it’s out of our hands. We can talk about it all day. It would be nice if we could do that, but our fans have been great. They might have to put a little extra effort in if we don’t have that many people in there.”
Teams in the Northeast — i.e., those with Democrat governors — will fall under fan restraints similar to those in Raleigh. The Pittsburgh Penguins, though at 25% capacity during the regular season, will increase indoor limits to 50% for the playoffs.
“It’s huge,” Pens head coach Mike Sullivan told PGH Hockey Now. “[Fans] bring energy, they help us create the electric environment that our players love to play. … This is a passionate fan base. They certainly love the Penguins.
“… So any time we can, we can put more fans in the building, we think that that helps create the environment, the energy that our players have, and the ability to feed off of. So that’s exciting news from our standpoint.”