Bill Peters will in fact exercise his opt-out clause and leave the Carolina Hurricanes. The head coach had until today to decide whether he’d leave the final season and $1.6MM of his contract on the table to pursue other opportunities. There had been speculation that both Peters and Hurricanes’ owner Thomas Dundon wanted to part ways, but were in a standoff to see whether he would exercise the option or have to be “reassigned.” In a statement, Peters thanked the organization for his time there:
I want to thank Tom Dundon, Peter Karmanos and Ron Francis for the trust they put in me to lead the team. I feel the incoming general manager should have the ability to hire his own head coach. I also want to thank Don Waddell and the entire front office and PNC Arena staff. This business requires hard work and long hours, and I greatly appreciate the efforts of the many people I have worked alongside during the past four years.
Peters has been the head coach of the Hurricanes for four years, missing the playoffs each season. After working as an assistant coach under Mike Babcock in Detroit, he was seen as one of the best coaching prospects in the league and a rising star in terms of head coaching positions. That expectation didn’t come to fruition in Carolina, where he ended with a 137-138-53 record. With the search for a new GM still underway, a departure was easy to predict one way or another. He’ll now be free to sign with another team.
The Calgary Flames sit as the favorite to hire Peters, as there has long been speculation that he would like to return to Alberta. The Flames recently fired Glen Gulutzan after just two seasons, and have made it clear they want a tougher voice in the room. Peters certainly wouldn’t be called a players coach, having previously called out publicly those who have underpeformed for him. That’s not to say that he is destined for Calgary though, as McKenzie reports that multiple clubs have expressed interest already.
As for Carolina, there has been some speculation that Hurricanes great Rod Brind’Amour would be considered for the now vacant position. Brind’Amour has served as an assistant coach for seven seasons, starting just a year after retiring as a player. It seems unlikely that they would name a new coach until the GM position is filled, but nothing Dundon has done to this point has been conventional, and he could decide to jump on one of the other free agents right away.
Bob McKenzie of TSN first reported that Peters would exercise the option.