The Stanley Cup playoffs are all about existing or newfound rivalries, but NHL fans probably don’t have Erik Haula versus the Hurricanes on their list.
Carolina eliminated the Devils in the Eastern Conference semifinals after an overtime victory in Game 5 to take the best-of-seven series, 3-1. The loss ended a surprise season from New Jersey, and it gave Haula a unique distinction in Stanley Cup playoff history.
The former Bruins winger became the first player to be eliminated by the same opponent in three consecutive postseasons while playing for three different teams, according to NHL on TNT researcher Chris Jastrzembski. Haula played for Nashville when the Predators were in the Discover Central Division during the season that was altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He had a season with Boston when the Black and Gold lost in the first round, and Haula was traded to the Devils for Pavel Zacha last offseason.
Jastrzembski pointed out the upcoming free agent might consider signing with the Hurricanes, but Haula played for Carolina in the 2019-20 season, and things didn’t exactly play out well between the forward and the team. The 32-year-old said before the Eastern Conference semifinals on May 3 that he didn’t see himself as a villain against the Hurricanes, per NJ.com, but the animosity still is there for Carolina fans, and the on-ice results also don’t help Haula.
The veteran could sign with a Western Conference team, but Jastrzembski also noted that club could make the Stanley Cup final and still somehow lose to the Hurricanes.
The 10th-year forward expressed his desire to re-sign in New Jersey, according to Devils reporter Amanda Stein. And the Devils hope this season is the start of a brighter future for the franchise. They probably just have to hope they don’t run into Carolina again if they do make another postseason run.