Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ron Francis Night

Ron and one of his Lady Byngs, 1998
I became a Hurricanes fan during game two of the '01 Cup playoffs. That was the game the Devils beat, and Scott Stevens beat up, the Hurricanes sending Shane Willis to the ER with a concussion. In game three he laid out Ron Francis in similar fashion and the Devils went up 3 games to none in a 4-0 shutout. I'll never forget the scene of Francis stumbling and finally crawling to the Hurricanes bench. The 'Canes came back and won the next two games.

The grit that this clearly overmatched team showed in coming back made me a Hurricanes fan. Much of the credit for the workman-like personality this team exhibited was rooted in Ron Francis' approach to his responsibilities as a player and as a captain. Rod Brind 'Amour, Glen Wesley and Kevyn Adams are the clubhouse and on-ice leaders they are today in part because of the quiet leadership by example they saw every night from Ron Francis.

Don't expect an over-the-top extravaganza tonight a la Mark Messier. That kind of NYC glitz is not what Ronnie Franchise would want. I would expect a heartfelt but understated tribute to the face and heritage of this franchise.

The perfect night would then be capped by a thorough bitch-slapping of Koval-chick (and his puffy upper lip, compliments of Bret Hedican) and the rest of Bob Hartley's Crip wanna-be's.

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