Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 08/24/11 at 05:25 PM ET
Things have been slow around here. Not much hockey news. The players are slowly starting to come back to the City of Oaks, the new guys are showing their faces. The unofficial workouts, “Camp Rosey” are underway, and everyone was shocked (literally) yesterday when the 5.8 magnitude earthquake in NoVa was felt all the way down here.
Today, though, some longtime Canes fans got some sad news.
David Martin, better known as “Chopper Harrison” has, according to Canes beat writer Luke DeCock, passed away at the age of 59.
Chopper Harrison was a classic rock disc jockey in Raleigh back in the early days of the Hurricanes. A North Dakota native, he was a huge hockey fan and one of the most vocal supporters of the Hurricanes. At a time when there frankly weren’t vary many Canes fans, he was doing more than enough. He talked about the Canes as much as his radio station would allow him to. And then some. He had wild curly hair, a raspy voice and an overly enthusiastic demeanor, which turned a lot of people off. He was, though, as well known as any Hurricanes player. His devotion to the Canes paid dividends when they hired him to be an on-ice personality for the intermission entertainment. He is most known for his participation in the launching of the tee-shirt cannons. With his unending zeal, leather jacket and his raspy voice, he would scream out “Over HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERE”, pointing to one section of the arena seating bowl. This would cause grown women and children alike to squeal with delight. Actually, the whole production was pretty ridiculous, and for a couple of years, Caniacs everywhere would use “over HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERE” as the punchline to many jokes.
He was what he was—a radio personality. Somewhere along the way, he forgot how to be David Martin and he only knew how to be the rowdy, sometimes obnoxious alter-ego “Chopper Harrison”. He thought he was bigger than he was, and he quickly lost any charm that he had. He irreparably damaged relationships with Hurricanes players, fans, and even the radio community. He was dismissed from job after job and he hit a really low point with a DUI arrest during the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs. By then, almost everybody except Erik Cole had turned their back on him, and he was essentially run out of town.
A couple of years later, he had moved to Minnesota. In 2009, doctors found a cancerous and inoperable tumor between his heart and his lungs. He started, but gave up on chemotherapy. He rediscovered himself—the real David Martin. He moved back to North Carolina and found that almost everybody had forgiven his clownish antics. Although we still mockingly ape his “over HEEEEEEEEEEEEERE” yells, we remember that he did a lot to get the Caniac Nation going. When there used to be 6,000 people in the stands, he was there. While he was a clown, he did a lot of good for the organization. He had gotten a bad break and it was time to remember good Chopper instead of bad Chopper.
Today, Chopper uttered his last “Over Here”.
Read more about “Chopper” in this DeCock article, from January, just before the All-Star Game.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.