Hurricanes’ Peters Seat Warm, Not Hot…Yet

I absolutely love Carolina Hurricanes head coach, Bill Peters. He is an old-school hockey guy, with a resume of success wherever he has coached. Most of the time Peters comes across as a tough, no-nonsense throwback to hockey’s grittier days. But, he is fair and enjoys a good laugh just like anyone else.

Peters’ Pedigree

Peters has been coaching for some time. According to he has been an assistant coach and the head coach with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League (WHL). During his three seasons as head coach of the Chiefs, Peters guided the team to the playoffs two out of three seasons, getting knocked out in the first round in their first appearance, and winning the WHL championship in their second.

From 2008-11, Peters was the head coach of the American Hockey League (AHL) Rockford IceHogs. He guided the team to two Calder Cup playoffs appearances in three years.

Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters
(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Next for Peters came three years as an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings, where he worked under the tutelage of head coach Mike Babcock. While the Wings were not winning Stanley Cups during his time there, Peters assuredly learned from one of the best coaches in the history of the NHL. Babcock has been a winner, and no doubt was able to strengthen Peters’ resolve to win.

An article by Josh Burns at The Hockey Writers highlights the success Peters has had on the international ice. Peters was at the helm for a gold medal win for team Canada in the IIHF U-18 Junior World Cup. His second gold medal would come in 2015 when he would once again work under Mike Babcock as an assistant coach for the IIHF World Championship. And in 2016, he was the head coach for team Canada as the brought home the gold in the IIHF World Championship.

When hired to coach the Hurricanes in June 2014, Peters said, “I’ll take the culture of winning in Detroit with me.” He has changed the culture surrounding the Hurricanes, but the winning has not gotten to the point of making the team playoff-eligible. That has some fans a little edgy when the conversation turns to Peters.

Peters Heading up the ‘Canes

Peters came to the Hurricanes in 2014. He has three years under his belt as the head coach. It has not been nearly as successful a start as the fans would have liked. In 2014-15, Peters and the ‘Canes went 30-41-11. Year two, 2015-16, Peters heading up the Hurricanes netted a record of 35-31-16. Last season saw Peters and the team once again out of the playoffs with a record of 36-31-15. The coach with a pedigree of winning has not been able to turn winning into a reality at his latest gig.

To his defense, Peters has had to deal with things like the loss of Jordan Staal for much of the 2014-15 season when Staal broke his leg on September 23, 2104 in a preseason game. His impact was obvious when he returned, but the dam was already burst on the season, and a playoff run was not in the cards. Jeff Skinner also had a concussion to recover from, and Eric Staal was placed on injured reserve for a bit. Essentially, Peters get a pass on his first season due to the swarm of injuries suffered by his key players.

Jordan Staal (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

At the start of the 2015-16 season, hopes were high. With the injury bug behind the team, the dream of making the playoffs was more of a realistic possibility. Noah Hanifin was drafted and made the team, adding to the growing stable of young talent that Hurricanes GM Ron Francis was assembling. As far as excitement goes, the season was one for the books.

Another tough October start put the team behind the eight-ball early on. But, they fought hard and literally took the season down to the last couple of games before eventually missing the playoffs. Peters was proud of his squad for giving the effort required to be competitive down to the wire, and said he knew it was not going to be a quick fix when he came to the team. In July 2016, Francis signed Peters to a three-year extension, and ESPN reported that Peters said as much: “We knew it wasn’t going to be a quick turnaround,” Peters said. “It takes time. … I just like the direction we’re headed in, and we’re headed in that direction for a long period of time.” With a record of 65-72-27 after two years, Francis seems to have known that the turnaround would take time, and showed that he believes in Peters by extending his contract.

Last season was much like the previous two. A bad start again in October put early pressure on the team. They once again made a bid for a wild card slot in the playoffs, but just couldn’t quite climb that elusive mountain. At the end of three seasons, the Hurricanes are still running a streak of not making the playoffs, and are still playing poorly in October. They are giving up points in overtime periods and shootouts that winning half of might be what puts them into the playoffs.

Peters and the New-Look Hurricanes

Here we are just before the prospect tournament in Traverse City. Training camp, exhibition games and the regular season are within view. And the Hurricanes are sporting new players that Francis dealt for in the offseason that actually might make a difference in the outcome of the season. Scott Darling, Justin Williams, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Marcus Kruger will be in Canes gear and hopefully bringing a spark that will fire this team up like it hasn’t seen in a long time.

Peters may not be on the hot seat…yet. But, his seat might be getting a bit warm, especially if – barring unforeseen injuries – he is unable to guide his team to the playoffs.

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

I think Peters is a great coach. I like the old school grit he brings to a sport that has changed a lot over the years. While others may not agree, I liked the way he handed Eddie Lack when it seemed at times last season couldn’t stop a basketball coming his way. He laid the smack on Lack and Lack responded.

I liked it when he offered Alexander Semin a seat in the stands when Semin was dragging around on the ice. There is no doubt he has put in motion a culture change in Raleigh where the Hurricanes are concerned. They are putting out effort on the ice, and genuinely playing hard.

With the new faces, with a Sebastian Aho who appears to have a mammoth upside, and a Skinner who showed last season that he is still a lethal scoring weapon, Peters will not have much room one his own seat to avoid a warming sensation if the team falls short again. I am hopeful for this team and for Peters. Hurricanes fans are ready for the playoffs to come back to Raleigh. Can Peters lead the team to the playoffs? Let’s drop the puck and find out.