Jul 18, 2011, 3:05 PM EST
It’s pretty tough to believe that two teams blew opportunities to clinch playoff berths in their final contests of the 2010-11 season. The Dallas Stars could have robbed the Chicago Blackhawks of a spot after the ‘Hawks dropped a game to the Detroit Red Wings on NBC, but the Stars whiffed in a game against the Wild in Minnesota. A similar scenario played out the night before, as the New York Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils, forcing the Carolina Hurricanes to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning to make the playoffs.
Of course, the Lightning decided that they wouldn’t allow their division neighbors to make the postseason without a fight. Tampa Bay throttled Carolina 6-2, crushing the Canes’ playoff dreams with a resounding thud.
Even with that tough-to-stomach conclusion in mind, the 2010-11 season brought some positives to the Hurricanes franchise and fans. For one thing, 2011 NHL All-Star Game seemed like a celebration of the market’s interest in the sport. As it turns out, the Hurricanes also avoided losing money. The Charlotte Observer passes along owner Peter Karamanos Jr.’s claims that the team “broke even” last season, even without making the playoffs.
Despite the Hurricanes missing the Stanley Cup playoffs last season, the team broke even financially, Karmanos said. The Canes were one victory away from reaching the playoffs but lost their last regular-season game at home 6-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals.
“That was not one of my brightest moments,” Karmanos said the final-game disappointment. “But we played a lot of meaningful games at the end of the season and at least we got to the last game with a chance. If we had gotten in the playoffs, I really think we’d have fared as well as Tampa.”
Karamanos has been hoping to sell at least a portion of his stake in the team for quite a few years now. Karamanos revealed that 9-10 people might buy a 15-20 percent stake in the Hurricanes.
Karmanos said all of the investors were based locally, although he did not name any of the individuals. In February, he said he hoped to have as many as 20 or 30 new partners, each investing $1 million to $3 million.
“We won’t have quite that many, but the ones we will have will invest closer to the higher number ($3 million) than the lower,” Karmanos said in an interview. “Things are going pretty well. We have had a lot of local people who have shown interest. It doesn’t hurt that Forbes calls Raleigh one of the best places to do business and live.
“We’re still in the process of going through all the legal documents. It’s moving along well. These are people who want to see the Hurricanes thrive and understand their involvement will give the Hurricanes even more exposure in the community.”
Karamanos seemed to argue against the Hurricanes being a “budget team,” but right now they appear to be one because they’re close to the salary cap floor with little indication that they’ll spend much more soon. GM Jeremy Rutherford was probably wise not to match the Montreal Canadiens’ hefty offer toward Erik Cole, but it’s doubtful that the team improved a whole lot this off-season. That could make a playoff run difficult next season considering the strength of the Southeast Division’s two powers (Tampa Bay and Washington), the possibility of improvement by Florida and the mystery in the making that is the Winnipeg Jets.
That being said, it’s heartening to hear that the Hurricanes didn’t need to make the playoffs to be a reasonable success at the box office last season. Perhaps that will help Karamanos find some investors who can allow the team to spend the money to make them a bigger threat on the ice in the future.
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