Rod Brind’Amour is one of the most beloved Carolina Hurricanes in history, captaining the Canes to their first and only Stanley Cup in 2006. His number hangs in the rafters of PNC Arena, and he’s been working with the Canes ever since he retired in 2010. The news of his new position was heralded by pealing bells of joy by many Canes fans, exuberant to finally see a much-loved Hurricane step into the head coach position.
The thing is, star players don’t always make the best head coaches. The most recent example is Patrick Roy’s short-lived tenure as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche from 2013 to 2016. While he started out strong, winning the Central Division title and the Jack Adams Award in the 2013-2014 season, the Avalanche quickly went downhill, finishing last in their division the next season. Roy ended up leaving in August 2016 due to frustration with not being involved in player management decisions.
Patrick Roy isn’t the only example — Wayne Gretzky also tried his hand at coaching with the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes from 2005 to 2009. The Coyotes didn’t make the playoffs any of those four seasons, and Gretzky left after the team filed for bankruptcy.
Rod Brind’Amour’s history with the Carolina Hurricanes may not exactly parallel Roy’s career (and definitely not Gretzky’s), but Hurricanes fans can’t assume that he’ll be a great coach just because he was a great player.
At the very least, Roy did have head coaching experience in juniors. Brind’Amour has none of that. His only coaching experience has been behind the Hurricanes bench as the development coach. However, this could work in his favor. Because he’s been working with the Hurricanes since 2011 — before most of the players currently on the roster had even joined the organization — he’s built up relationships with the players that will be key to ensuring team cohesiveness in the coming years. His predecessor Bill Peters did not have that cohesiveness (or team loyalty), and it certainly showed.
On the ice, there are many players that (it can be hoped) will benefit from a change of coaching. Jeff Skinner, especially, stands to gain a lot from Brind’Amour’s advent. After finishing fifth in the league in goals in the 2016-2017 season, Skinner was inexplicably moved to the third line for much of last season and was placed on the second power play unit. However, he still finished fourth on the team with 49 points. Imagine what he could do when given more ice time and better linemates than Derek Ryan and Lee Stempniak.
Scoring has been an issue for the Canes over the past few seasons, and another player who could help with that problem (given the right circumstances) is Elias Lindholm. While Lindholm is a restricted free agent this summer, it’s unlikely that the Canes will let him go, given his scoring touch and ability to skate hard minutes. His scoring hasn’t been bad, per se (he had 44 points this past season), but there’s evidence that displays he can still take his game up a level. With the right coach, he can do just that.
The goalie situation was interesting last season under Peters, and right now it’s too early to say what it will look like in the future. Cam Ward is a UFA on July 1, and while things would certainly be different if Scott Darling had lived up to the Canes’ hopes for him, there’s no telling whether Ward stays or goes.
One last thing: Brind’Amour has given his heart and soul to this team, while Tom Dundon turned the place upside down since becoming the owner. The coach/owner relationship may be rocky in days ahead, as Dundon has already spoken of his intent to call the coach and ask about what went wrong in games they lose, continuing that hands-on approach that he’s already known for.
- Don Waddell, who’s been serving as interim GM since Ron Francis got kicked upstairs, was also named the official GM. There will be more turtlenecks in the upcoming years, it seems.
- Quick update on Worlds: Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teräväinen are tied for first in the tournament in scoring, with 13 points apiece over five games, including a 5-1 rout of Team Canada on Saturday evening. Derek Ryan has scored three goals – one shorthanded – while still only playing about fifteen minutes a game. Scott Darling got his first start on Friday, making twelve saves against Korea and letting in one goal. Martin Nečas only missed a single game for the Czechs, but he’s also only had one point since his first game. All in all, not too shabby of a look right now.
- On Wednesday night (or, really, Thursday morning), the Charlotte Checkers took part in the longest AHL game in history. They took the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to quintuple OT and ultimately lost after getting 95 SOG on Phantoms goaltender Alex Lyon, with only a single goal to show for it. Shooting a .01 is quintessential Canes, though.
- And that’s it for the Checkers. They lost 5-1 on Saturday night, ending their season in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs. It was a good run, though, and while it shows that goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic may not be quite ready for the NHL yet, there are plenty of other solid players who will be vying for NHL roster spots come September.