Carolina Hurricanes troll winless Montreal Canadiens, adding fuel to rivalry

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Call of the Wilde!
Global’s hockey analyst Brian Wilde joins Laura Casella to kick off a new season of Call of the Wilde with a recap of the Habs match-up against the Carolina Hurricanes – Oct 22, 2021

The Montreal Canadiens remain winless after five straight games — and the Carolina Hurricanes certainly know how to rub salt in the wound.

Not only did the American team snag a 4-1 victory over the Habs at the Bell Centre, they teased their rivals and their fans all Thursday night on social media.

“Les Hurricanes triomphent,” the Canes tweeted in French after the last buzzer, which translates to “the Hurricanes won.”

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the 21-year-old who left the tricolore for Carolina over the summer after signing a $6.1 million offer sheet, was booed every time he got on ice.

And, of course, he scored his first goal for Canes that night.

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“It happened. It actually happened,” Carolina wrote in a cheeky tweet right after Kotkaniemi tipped in a shot from Brady Skjei to restore the team’s two-goal lead.

Kotkaniemi, who was the No. 3 pick at the 2018 NHL draft out of Montreal, was plucked by the Canes on a one-year contract in restricted free agency. The Canadiens chose not to match the offer and decided to let him walk, which also turned plenty of heads at the time.

Carolina wasted no time Wednesday night, pulling up a photo of a smiling Kotkaniemi donning a bleu, blanc and rouge jersey when he was drafted.

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After the game, the young centre told reporters that he wasn’t sure what to expect upon his return to the Bell Centre. But he took the relentless booing in stride.

“It gets your going a little bit,” Kotkaniemi said. “It was a little funny. I laughed when I stepped on the ice.”

Not only did Kotkaniemi snag a goal, but Sebastian Aho shined at the game. The centre also scored his first of the season, and he sealed the 4-1 victory with an empty-net goal.

Montreal had tendered an offer sheet to Aho when the NHL free agency opened in 2019. But Carolina chose to keep their star player and matched the offer, putting an end to the Habs’ plan.

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In fact, the Canes’ bold snap up of Kotkaniemi two years later was treated as another form of trolling by the team.

The next time Montreal will face Carolina will be during the holiday season. The game is set for 7 p.m. at the PNC Arena on Dec. 30.

with files from The Canadian Press

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