Mercifully, the winter-sports season has ended for me.
I blogged back in January about how this had the potential to be the worst winter-sports season of my lifetime as a fan. Although there were some bright spots at the end, it certainly lived up to that potential. Two of the three teams I'm most passionate about -- Carolina basketball and the Carolina Hurricanes (the other is the Chicago Cubs) -- made sure of that.
The Tar Heels finally started to play well enough to beat teams in the sub-standard NIT and got some valuable experience for the younger players in the process. But a 17-loss season and an NIT berth aren't outcomes that sit too well with me or any other Carolina fan.
Coming off a national championship, I knew not to expect another title because of the players the Tar Heels lost. But I never expected this sort of drop off.
The Canes started out horribly and slipped to the worst record in the NHL, thanks to poor play in a lot of areas and an injury to goalie Cam Ward. After advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in the previous season, I was expecting big things.
The Hurricanes also finished with some positives and, frankly, were playing some of the best hockey in the league over the final month of the regular season. They beat two of the best teams in the NHL -- the Penguins and the Caps -- during that run.
But the Canes provided one last bit of embarrassment in Saturday's season-ending loss at Boston: Becoming the first team in NHL history to give up three short-handed goals while trying to kill one penalty.
Now comes the offseason, which today provided a bit of pain with Ed Davis' decision to leave UNC for the NBA. That doesn't come as a huge surprise, but there was some speculation that he might return because his injury will make it tough for him to show off his skills in workouts for NBA teams.
The Canes' offseason also will likely include some painful decisions, the biggest surrounding the future of former captain Rod Brind'Amour.
At 40, and with his skills slowly eroding, and it's probably time for him to retire. It will be sad to see the guy who led the club to the 2006 Stanley Cup finals no longer on the ice, but it's time. He doesn't need to spend another season as a fourth-line center and retirement is probably best for the organization.
About the only positive in this winter-sports season for me is that my fantasy-hockey team won the league championship for a second straight season.
Let's hope the Heels and the Canes give me some real titles next season!