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Hamilton the Pig’s plans for Canes Stanley Cup playoff games

Our porcine superstar is still at it. This popular pig is “storm spinning,” posing for pictures and trying once again to bring luck to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

His name is Hamilton. And his veterinarian just cleared the 4-year-old, nearly 190-pound potbellied local celebrity to return to the PNC Arena, just in time for the Canes’ second playoff round against the New York Rangers.

Hamilton became an international celebrity in 2019, when the Canes made the Stanley Cup finals, ultimately losing to the Boston Bruins. The adored pig attended playoff games at PNC Arena to tailgate, sit rink side and bring his luck with him wherever he went.

With the Hurricanes back in a race for the Stanley Cup, we wanted to check in with Hamilton and find out what’s new in his life, and if he’s made any playoff plans.

Here’s what we learned.

Hamilton usually spends the season tailgating with fans, posing for photos and munching on unlimited carrots. Recently, though, he’s been at home recovering from a routine oral procedure and an injured hoof — and spending lots of time with human baby Parker, born April 9 to Kyle and Karoline Eckenrode.

Parker loves wearing Canes onesies, and Hamilton loves sniffing her and inspecting for fallen crumbs, Kyle Eckenrode said.

Hamilton has almost 4,800 Twitter followers and over 7,500 Instagram followers. He’s even the subject of a tattoo, which a fan got in 2019 to support her favorite hockey team.

On a sad note, the Eckenrodes’ longtime dog, an Australian shepherd named Zé (pronounced Zay), lost his battle to cancer on Wednesday.

Garner native and country music star Scotty McCreery — a major Caniac and an Eckenrode family friend — offered Kyle Eckenrode a ticket that night for Game 1 against the Rangers. The self-proclaimed Pig Dad went to watch the game with McCreery, who tweeted halfway through that the Canes should win for Zé, Hamilton’s fur brother.

“The Canes delivered in a dramatic fashion!” Eckenrode said. “With an amazing overtime win.”

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Carolina Hurricanes mascot Stormy the Pig watches the game with Hamilton the Pig at Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals game against the Boston Bruins in Raleigh, May 14, 2019. Brooke Cain bcain@newsobserver.com

That’s one lucky pig

Here’s more of Hamilton’s origin story, from a News & Observer report in 2019, when the Hurricanes made it to the Stanley Cup finals:

Eckenrode took Hamilton to visit tailgaters outside PNC Arena for Game 3 of the first round game against the Washington Capitals in 2019. The Canes had lost the first two games, but with Hami in the parking lot, they won. Eckenrode and Hamilton came back for Game 4 — another win.

When the Canes went to Washington (without Hamilton), they got crushed. But back in Raleigh for Game 6, Hamilton attended as a special guest of the team.

Guess how that game finished.

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Micah Patchin, left, and Austin Davis pose for selfies with Hamilton the Pig prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Nashville Predators at PNC Arena Monday, May 17, 2021. Travis Long tlong@newsobserver.com

With the series tied, the Canes went back to Washington for the seventh and final game. The Eckenrodes wanted to be there too, so they drove to the District. Hamilton enjoyed his wagon tours around the nation’s capital and rested when his humans watched the game from an outdoor patio bar. The game went into a nail-biting overtime.

The Eckenrodes mentioned they were pig parents to the folks at the bar, who eagerly wanted to meet him.

As soon as he got to the bar, the Canes scored, Karoline Eckenrode previously told The N&O.

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Brothers Bryce (left), 4, and Landon, 7, of Cary feed a carrot to Hamilton the Pig before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals game against the Boston Bruins in Raleigh, May 14, 2019. Brooke Cain bcain@newsobserver.com

What’s Hamilton been up to?

Hamilton, then weighing in at 90 pounds, spent the 2019 postseason hanging around PNC — even enjoying games inside the stadium.

He tailgated earlier this season, but since the postseason began, he hasn’t made it out to any games because of his hoof injury.

“Just something that happens with pigs,” Eckenrode told The N&O on Thursday. “It cracked, but with the right treatment, the hoof grew back in. The vet cleared him yesterday.”

He also got his tusk shaved down — which potbellied pigs need every four to five years for their own comfort and for the safety of others — and caught up on his vaccinations.

When will Hamilton be at a Canes playoff game?

After taking some time to recover, Hamilton plans to be back at PNC, tailgating from his special wagon and even trying to make it inside.

“He likely won’t be able to get through a full game in the stadium anymore,” Eckenrode said.

Eckenrode hopes to make it to Game 5 against the New York Rangers on May 26, but he’s not sure if Hamilton will need more recovery time. If there’s a Game 7 in this series (which would be on May 30), he hopes Hamilton can attend.

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“Pig Dad” Kyle Eckenrode pulls Hamilton the Pig around the PNC Arena before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals game against the Boston Bruins in Raleigh, May 14, 2019. Brooke Cain bcain@newsobserver.com

When he’s at PNC, he spends time around the Premiere Lot, but fans can follow his social media to see where he’ll be to snap photos with him. Fans can come at any time to pet and snag a photo with the pig from his rink-side spot.

Fans can keep up with Hamilton’s social media — on Twitter at @DtrHamilton and on Instagram at @HamiltonDTR — to find out if he’ll be attending and where he can be spotted.

But if Hamilton’s not at the stadium at all this season, fans can find him “storm spinning” — twirling around to celebrate a Canes goal — and sporting logo bandannas.

Kimberly Cataudella (she/her) is a service journalism reporter for The News & Observer.

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