The Franchise Best Series comes to you to dive into the all-time best single season for every organization. This, of course, includes post-season results. Join us for a look back at some of the most memorable moments in each franchise’s history. Here is the Carolina Hurricanes best season.
Franchise Best: Carolina Hurricanes 2005-06 Season
The 2005-06 National Hockey League season was a magical one for the Carolina Hurricanes franchise and its fans. The Hurricanes had their best season ever and captured the most beautiful trophy in all of sports. In this article, we will take a look into the 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes and their season.
The Previous Year and Off-Season Additions
The 2005-06 season was the franchise’s 34th season, their 27th season in the NHL, and their ninth season as the Hurricanes (previously known as the Hartford Whalers). The previous season, 2004-05, was cancelled as a result of the NHL Lockout, and as a result, the Hurricanes, as well as every other team in the NHL had a full year off. Come spring of 2005, the lockout had ended and the 2005-06 season was set to kick off in October.
During that summer, general manager Jim Rutherford added several players to the Hurricanes roster. Forwards Ray Whitney and Cory Stillman were both signed as free agents. In October, just as the season was starting, the Hurricanes acquired winger Craig Adams from the Anaheim Ducks (then the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim), in exchange for Bruno St. Jacques. Mike Commodore was also acquired via trade from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a draft pick earlier that summer.
The captain for the season was Rod Brind’Amour, and the alternates were Kevyn Adams, Glen Wesley, and Stillman. Behind the bench for the Canes was head coach Peter Laviolette and Kevin McCarthy and Jeff Daniels as his assistant coaches.
Key Storylines Through the Year
The 2005-06 NHL season was the best one for the Hurricanes, who put up a record of 52-22-8 (totalling 112 points). The team had scored 294 goals and gave up 260 against. The team finished first in the Southeast Division and second in the Eastern Conference. The most consecutive wins the team had were nine in a row, while the most they lost consecutively stood at a low three.
Goaltender Martin Gerber notched 38 wins that season, marking him in fourth place among goalies in the NHL. Forward Eric Staal finished seventh in the NHL scoring race (100 points) and eighth in goals scored (45).
One of the major storylines of the 2005-06 NHL season was to see how teams would react to the lockout of 2004-05 that cancelled an entire season. With that, players had an entire year off. While some played in Europe and other in minor leagues in North America, the question was how ready would the teams be and if there would be any surprises. The Hurricanes came strong out the gate and had an excellent start to the season (24-10-4 through the first three months of play. The worst month they had was March (9-5-2). There best month was January (13-1-0).
The Hurricanes had eight players reach 30 or more points on the season, with six of those players hitting 50 points or higher. The Hurricanes top scorer that season was the 21-year-old forward from Thunder Bay, Ontario- Eric Staal. Staal would go on to have a career-best 100 point season, scoring a total of 45 goals and tallying 55 helpers.
Justin Williams had a total of 76 points (31 goals, 45 assists), Cory Stillman had a total of 76 points as well, notching 21 goals and scoring 55 assists (tying Staal for most on the team). The captain Rod Brind’Amour netted 31 goals and added 39 helpers for a total of 70 points and winger Erik Cole scored 59 points (30 goals, 29 assists).
Newly signed Ray Whitney had an excellent season with 55 points and Matt Cullen, signed in 2004, had 49. Defenseman Frantisek Kaberle tallied 44 points, with six goals and 38 assists (most assists by a defenseman on the team).
In-Season Additions (Trades or Signings)
In December of 2005, the Hurricanes traded Colin Forbes to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Stephen Peat and also traded Pavel Brendl to the Arizona Coyotes (then the Phoenix Coyotes), for Krys Kolanos. In January, the Canes sent Danny Richmond to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Anton Babchuk. Later that month, the Hurricanes were involved in a five-man deal with the St. Louis Blues. In this trade, Carolina shipped off Jesse Boulerice, Mike Zigomanis, and Magnus Kahnberg in return for Doug Weight and Erkki Rajamaki.
Come the NHL trade deadline in March, the Hurricanes had one final trade left to make. Mark Recchi was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins, with the Canes sending Niklas Nordgren and Krys Kolanos the other way.
Postseason Competition and Playoff Performers
The Carolina Hurricanes clinched a berth in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs and were matched up against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. On April 22, the postseason began with a disappointing 6-1 loss. The Hurricanes would lose Game 2, 6-5 in overtime as well. During the first round of play, goaltender Martin Gerber, who had been spectacular all season long, was beginning to struggle. Head coach Peter Laviolette would end up pulling Gerber, replacing him with young rookie netminder Cam Ward. Ward sparked a come-back and would power the Canes through the first round, with Carolina ultimately defeating Montreal four games to two. Rod Brind’Amour lead the Hurricanes with four goals in the first round.
The Eastern Conference Semifinals pitted the Hurricanes against the New Jersey Devils. Carolina was hot, riding off the excellent play from Ward and the continued scoring of Brind’Amour. Eric Staal, Ray Whitney, and Cory Stillman also had stellar performances in round two, with Staal and Whitney having three goals a piece in the series.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Buffalo Sabres and Canes clashed. Gerber would see the crease again and would have a shutout in a crucial Game 4 to even the series up at two games apiece. The series would go the distance, heading all the way to a Game 7. Carolina would ultimately top Buffalo 4-2 on June 1st in Game 7, securing their second Stanley Cup Final appearance. Brind’Amour would continue to be hot in the Conference Finals, having scored three more times. Justin Williams had a great series, also scoring three goals.
The 2006 Stanley Cup Final was set. The Carolina Hurricanes were to take on the Edmonton Oilers. The Hurricanes won Game 1, 5-4, then won Game 2, 5-0, with the amazing Cam Ward notching a shutout. The Oilers would rebound in Game 3, securing a close 2-1 victory. The Hurricanes would take Game 4 by a score of 2-1. Now just one win away from the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup, all the Hurricanes had to do was win one more game. The Edmonton Oilers wouldn’t go down without a fight and would win both Games 5 and 6 to force an “all or nothing” Game 7.
The Carolina Hurricanes won Game 7 and the Stanley Cup on home ice by a score of 3-1, defeating the Oilers four games to three. The brilliant Cam Ward was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs.
Eric Staal led the Hurricanes in playoff points with a total of 28 (nine goals, 19 assists). Cory Stillman was right behind him with 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists). Rod Brind’Amour finished with 18 points, notching 12 goals and six helpers. His 12 goals were a team high for the postseason.
The Carolina Hurricanes were 2006 Stanley Cup Champions. A team which relied on both young and veteran players went the distance, going to Game 7 in both the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals. A team which heavily prepared itself after a year off due to the lockout came off on top. Management and coaching executed their jobs and the players believed in Peter Laviolette’s system. A rookie goaltender became an unlikely hero and saved the team. The season was a perfect one for the Hurricanes. The ultimate prize was achieved. The 2006 Stanley Cup remains the only Stanley Cup victory in Hurricanes franchise history. From regular season statistics to postseason storylines, the 2005-06 season is the best in Carolina Hurricanes franchise history.
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