Another long summer is here for the Carolina Hurricanes, who are out of the playoffs yet again.
"It's not a good feeling," said defenseman Justin Faulk. "It's both years for me that we haven't made it. It's not fun. It's tough we're leaving on this note."
Carolina finished 13th in the 15-team Eastern Conference with a 19-35-4 record. The Canes gave up 160 goals – only Florida (171) gave up more.
That train wreck of a season followed great promise in preseason, with
So where did a season that had so much promise go bad?
Most point to injuries. The Canes certainly had their fair share, including a devastating, season- ending injury to top goalie Cam Ward March 3.
Ward, however, wouldn't say his injury was the reason the franchise is out of the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
"I don't think so - there were other areas we just weren't good enough, I guess," he said. "It was just bad timing but you had Justin Faulk go down, you had Joni Pitkanen go down.
"You can down the list - just at the end of the day just wasn't good enough."
The Hurricanes need to get better, and fast. Next season Carolina will be in a much tougher division, with the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers and Devils.
A daunting task? Bring it on says the captain.
"That's fine," said Eric Staal. "I think we play better against those teams. I have no problem about it. I actually think it will be better for our team and our fans."
Relocated hockey fans will ensure a full house at PNC Arena when their teams visit on a more regular basis next season. But for a franchise to survive, it must make the postseason - something the Hurricanes have accomplished just once in the past seven years.