Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr., who brought an NHL team to North Carolina and has been heavily involved in youth hockey, will be formally inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night.
The 41st annual ceremonies will be held at the Motor City Casino in Detroit. In addition to Karmanos, the others to be inducted are former NHL forwards Doug Weight and Bill Guerin; former Michigan State men’s coach Ron Mason, and Cindy Curley, who has been called one of the pioneers of women’s hockey.
Weight was a member of the Hurricanes' 2006 Stanley Cup champions.
Karmanos faced heavy criticism when the decision was made in 1997 to relocate the Hartford Whalers from Connecticut to the Triangle. The newly named Hurricanes reached the Stanley Cup final in 2002 and won the Cup four years later. The Hurricanes have hosted the 2004 NHL Draft and the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.
Canes coach Kirk Muller said he was like many others around the NHL in 1997, wondering if a team could build a fan base and succeed financially in a Southern market. But Karmanos, he said, made it work.
“He obviously did a lot of research,” Muller said Monday. “At that time, I hadn't even been to (North) Carolina before. We all knew it was a big car-racing state and everything.
“He's a smart business guy and he did his homework. He looked into an area he thought was worth bringing it to and now it's a great spot with some great loyal fans. He's really shown that this game that we love to play can sell in a lot of markets.”
In 2009, ESPN ranked the Hurricanes the top hockey franchise and second-best overall pro sports franchise based on on-ice success, impact in the community impact and fan experience.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction,” Karmanos said when his induction was announced. “It was nice to be able to prove what a great sport it was when you’re moving right into the center of ACC basketball.
“We were able unite the area, which was split between three different colleges. I’ve heard people say over and over again that hockey was the thing that allowed the Triangle to be united. It was just affirmation of what a great game hockey is.”
Karmanos has funded youth hockey teams in the Detroit area for decades and is the owner of the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. He was the 1998 recipient of the NHL’s Lester Patrick Award for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States and received the 2012 USA Hockey Distinguished Achievement Award