As we approach the start of training camps and preseason in the NHL, a look north to Toronto and south to Carolina reveals a few similarities. Each team had a horrendous season last year, and are looking to 2015-16 as an opportunity to improve.
While the Toronto Maple Leafs have a history that includes multiple Stanley Cup wins, and the Carolina Hurricanes have won only one, their recent histories are not altogether that different.
Both the Leafs and the ‘Canes have a new head coach. The Hurricanes installed Bill Peters last year and the Leafs hired Mike Babcock this year. Both have the Detroit Red Wings on their resumes, albeit Babcock as head coach and Peters as one of his assistants.
Both coaches come across as no-nonsense old school hockey. Certainly Babcock has a more illustrious resume at the NHL level, but Peters has won wherever he has coached. Peters may have been in his first year last season, but he doesn’t come across as timid or hesitant.
Like the coach he worked under in Detroit, Peters has a system and will put it in place. Players like Alexander Semin who won’t or can’t buy into the system won’t be in Carolina long. Peters is not afraid to do whatever it takes to get his message across. (See “Hurricanes’ Peters to Alexander Semin: Have a Seat“) Semin is gone and ‘Canes GM Ron Francis has great confidence in his coach.
The 2015-16 season will be a great opportunity to see if the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes truly buy into their coaches’ systems and if those systems can produce winning results on the ice for their respective teams. New coaches with Red Wings backgrounds are one way that these teams are alike.
Both the Leafs and the Hurricanes drafted early in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Mitch Marner, a promising 18-year old forward went to Toronto. Eliteprospects.com says of Marner,
“A very quick skater gifted with great hands and hockey sense. Battles hard in all three zones and shows a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the puck to the back of the net; an unselfish player.”
“He (Marner) may not move into the middle as a rookie, but that potential certainly exists. Leafs fans should be very excited about the possibilities that are on the horizon.”
This is another direct example of how these two teams are currently a lot alike. The Hurricanes are also in a rebuilding mode, and their first round pick is also very promising.
The ‘Canes selected Noah Hanifin with their fifth pick in the NHL Entry draft. He also receives a glowing report at Eliteprospects.com who says,
“He is poised beyond his years and mature in his decision-making. All-in-all, Noah Hanifin is the ideal all-around defenseman that leaves no area of his game untended.”
That is a pretty glowing review, and one that ‘Canes fans can believe. Hanifin is the real deal. Now that he has signed with Carolina and put the question of returning to Boston College aside, it is possible that he will be on the NHL ice sooner rather than later. Chris Peters of CBSSports.com wrote of Hanifin,
“Both the team and player probably believe he can be an NHLer from Day 1, though. His physical maturity is ahead of his years, and so is his skating ability.”
However, Francis may not be quite ready to pull the trigger on Hanifin being with the ‘Canes just yet.
— theScore NHL (@theScoreNHL) July 26, 2015
Both Toronto and Carolina appear to have made solid draft picks that they can believe will help both teams in rebuilding. Whether or not either rookie will be a regular this coming season is up in the air, but they both brighten the future for their respective teams.
The fans of the Maple Leafs and the fans of the Hurricanes are past being ready for hockey in June. Neither team has made the playoffs of late, and the fans are restless.
when the canes missed the playoffs for the 6th year in a row https://t.co/VgNZplKGuU
— ellie (@elliewhats) July 20, 2015
Both teams have new general managers, Francis in Carolina entering his second season, and Lou Lamoriello was just named as the new general manager in Toronto. Of course he is no rookie, having been the general manager of the New Jersey Devils for 28 seasons, although replaced in that role in April by Ray Sharo.
The Leafs have new, veteran leadership, and the Hurricanes have somewhat new, 2nd year leadership. The coach and GM in Raleigh are much newer at their positions than their counterparts in Toronto, but both teams are alike in seeking a return to the playoffs through new leadership.
Fans longing for the playoffs, new leadership, and fantastic draft picks make the Leafs and the ‘Canes a lot alike. Not to mention their horrendous records last season. Putting that aside, it is easy to believe that both teams share at least the potential for making great strides in the coming season. It will be fun to watch for sure.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.