No longer are the Carolina Hurricanes without a coach or GM. The team has announced the hiring of Rod Brind’Amour as their next head coach, a decision that won’t come as a surprise to anyone. Brind’Amour will come in as Bill Peters’ replacement, after Peters exercised an out clause last month to join the Calgary Flames. The team has also announced that Don Waddell, who had been operating as interim GM, will now be the team’s official President and GM. Waddell had this to say about his newest head coach:
Rod is the greatest leader in the history of this franchise, and has earned the opportunity to take charge of our locker room. We spoke to a number of candidates for this position, but our conversations with staff and players consistently returned to the same person. Rod’s fresh ideas, ability to motivate and understanding of what it takes to bring a championship to Raleigh will help our young team take the next step toward competing to bring the Cup back to North Carolina.
Brind’Amour, who received a three-year contract, is a legendary playing figure for the Hurricanes, suiting up in 694 games for the franchise over 10 years, and lifting their first Stanley Cup as captain in 2006. Just a year after retirement he joined the club as an assistant coach, a role he has held since 2011. Now transitioning to head coach will be a daunting task, especially as he has been critiqued in the past for a middling powerplay unit and lackluster forward group.
If Brind’Amour is going to find success in Carolina, he’ll need an improved offensive attack and for Waddell to finally find the team a reliable goaltender. Scott Darling is under contract for three more seasons, but will need a huge bounce back to even get to average goaltending. His .888 save percentage was unacceptable, and one of the main reasons the Hurricanes failed to reach the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.
Waddell had already been serving as interim GM, but will now take over fully in the role moving forward. That comes as somewhat of a surprise, as Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer notes that Waddell had already said he did not want to be considered for the role. Perhaps he had a change of heart, or perhaps the search is taking too long and the team wanted some stability throughout the draft and free agency. Any new GM coming in would be hard pressed to set up an entire offseason strategy over the next month. Waddell, who had already been with the team (though not in this capacity), is familiar with the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.
The team also recently brought in Rick Dudley to be Waddell’s right-hand man, a duo that had previously been together with the Atlanta Thrashers. The new front office will have plenty of work to do over the next few months, as they try to bring the team back to the playoffs. Jeff Skinner is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019, while Noah Hanifin needs a new contract before next season as he comes off his entry-level deal.