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Hockey Has a Bizarre New Controversy

Carolina embraces 'bunch of jerks' label for their post-win celebrations
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2019 9:02 AM CST
Updated Feb 23, 2019 4:10 PM CST

(Newser) – It is a pro sports controversy of the lighter variety. The Carolina Hurricanes are drawing all kinds of attention for their ever-crazier celebrations after victories at home. Typically, NHL teams gather at center ice after wins, salute their fans by raising their sticks, and ... that's it. Carolina goes way beyond that—care for a limbo, anyone?—and iconic broadcaster Don Cherry has called them out as a "bunch of jerks" for doing so. The Hurricanes are now selling "bunch of jerks" T-shirts. The details:

  • The celebrations: The Hurricanes call it the Storm Surge, and it began early in the season. Things started relatively simple: One player would lead the team in an overhead clap, or Skol clap, and then the players would skate down the ice and leap into the boards. Still, such a premeditated team celebration is "alien to hockey culture," notes Sports Illustrated.
  • Getting weirder: The celebration has evolved. See duck, duck, goose; bowling; human dominoes; and baseball.

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  • The critics: Old-school hockey fans absolutely hate it, and nobody is more old-school than 85-year-old broadcaster and former coach Don Cherry of Hockey Night in Canada. "They're a bunch of jerks as far as I'm concerned," he declared. "This is a joke. ... You don’t do this thing in professional hockey." He also warned, "I’ll tell you one thing, they better not do this in the playoffs." See his rant here.
  • Hurricanes respond: The team, of course, is now selling "Bunch of Jerks" T-shirts. They also got in a dig at Cherry involving Grampa Simpson.
  • The knock on Cherry: Here is how Sportsnet.ca puts it: "At 85-years-old and not having coached in the NHL since 1980, it’s likely that Cherry has little understanding of the modern athlete and how they behave." The Washington Post notes the irony here: Cherry is known for his outrageous suits, which he has worn for decades. See some of the crazier ones here, via ETCanada.
  • Defending the celebration: "The stick wave at the end got a little stale, a little monotonous, it was like we had to do it," team captain Justin Williams (who was specifically called out by Cherry) previously explained, per USA Today. "This adds a different element to it. Hockey is fun. We win a game, we want to celebrate."
  • Last word: The Hurricanes in 2019 have been one of the hottest teams in the league, going from being well out of the playoffs to contending for a wild-card spot in their conference. Given the superstitions of hockey players, don't expect this "celly" to go away anytime soon.
(Read more NHL stories.)

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