In a preemptive strike to avoid backlash from political-correctness watchdogs and Weather Channel pundits, the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes announced today that they are changing their name to the Wizards after Hurricane Irene left a large path of destruction along the East Coast this weekend.

The team’s new nickname was thought up quickly this morning, Carolina GM Jim Rutherford said.

“I knew that the Washington Bullets changed their name to the Wizards when D.C.’s gun violence rate was highest in the nation for several years,” Rutherford said. “I just hope that no conflict suddenly develops between wizards and Keebler Elves. That would mean we would have to call ourselves the Cigarettes. Cigarettes might be controversial, even though everyone smokes here in Raleigh.”

The new name doesn’t go over well with Wizards players.

“I think I would have gone with Carolina Tires,” said defenseman Jodi Pitkanen. “Tires are like big hockey pucks with holes in the middle. I think a tire would look cool on my shirt because of that.”

By Rob C. Christiansen