A few of my colleagues in the sports media have written lately that it’s time for Carolina Hurricanes head coach, Bill Peters to be fired. I addressed the subject recently myself, saying I felt his seat was warm, not hot. But, after the Dec. 16th 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, I thought it would be a good time to ask Peters how he felt about being blamed for the team’s letdown. Also, to get his thoughts as to whether his removal is a necessary solution for management, as some have suggested.
I don’t know what the answer is either. I’d say fire Peters but I don’t know what that would do. Maybe time for Rod to go back to the gym and let a new special teams coach have a go.
— Jason Long 🔎 (@longjasonm) December 8, 2017
“Coach Peters, is Your Seat Hot?”
I basically asked Peters if he felt he was on the “hot seat?”
Peters started to respond very directly, but as is usual when he and I interact, he had a little fun, too. Peters said,
I think you should look at everything. I have a thing on my F-150. And, I’m lucky down here it doesn’t get too cold. But, there’s a button. It blows air – I don’t think it’s air conditioning. But, the other one has heat. So, if it’s cold I’ll put that on. That’s a hot seat…it’s three levels, right, it’s hot. That’s a hot seat. So the coach drives a pickup truck and has a blower that can make his seat cold or hot.
Of course, my colleagues howled with laughter as they normally do when I tee Peters up and he hits me square with a humorous response. But, we’ve developed quite the rapport over the past four years, and while he is willing to get a good laugh, Peters very rarely leaves me hanging. This time was no exception as he then answered my question thoughtfully and somewhat surprisingly. Peters said:
I would look at everything. If I was in ownership, management, I would look at the coach. I would look at everything. Because, you should. I would. I would look at everything, I’d go through it thoroughly. And I’d make decisions based on what you’ve got to do to be successful moving forward. I think everyone wants to be successful. And so, if it’s not happening, let’s find some solutions. And if it’s the coach, [make us?] do something.
I was not about to let such a pregnant moment go by the wayside, so I followed up by asking, “How would ‘Owner, Bill Peters’ look at ‘Coach, Bill Peters’?” Slipping back into comedic form, Peters replied, “That’s nepotism, I wouldn’t do it.” (Cue my howling colleagues).
In the space of around 90 seconds, Peters basically said, ‘Mr. Dundon, if I’m the problem, you know what to do.’
Peters Understands the Canes Situation
So, an NHL head coach likes to get a laugh at my expense. I would ordinarily find this a bit discomforting, except that I have a talked to Peters in other settings and know that he respects me and my willingness to ask him a tough question. That means a lot in this business.
All this exchange Saturday night did was further my respect for Peters as a coach in the NHL. He might be gone in a day or a week. He might be the Hurricanes’ coach for five more years. Who knows? But, he is not afraid to include himself from scrutiny. I think that is not only admirable, but a rare quality in a day and age where throwing others under the bus is a favorite pastime for some.
Should Peters hold up under the scrutiny of new owner, Tom Dundon? I think at this moment the jury is still out. Peters certainly has been dealt a tough hand this season. We in the media thought he was holding flush cards and aces. As it turns out, some of those cards, namely the one in-goal, has turned out to be one that cost Peters several times. Scott Darling is having a horrible time getting acclimated to the role of starting goaltender.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 19, 2017
Guess what? Peters did not trade for Darling and sign him to an extension just as was done with Eddie Lack. But, Peters is certainly catching the heat for the team losing. Another outing like Tuesday’s 8-1 disaster against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Hurricanes might leave him in Canada.
I know there are other complaints about Peters. His constant line changing is annoying at times. I’ve said the two-headed captaincy monster has been, and is, a disaster. But Peters knows all of this and more. He’s not afraid to be scrutinized and to accept the outcome if that means he has to move. I hope it does not come to that. We’re supposed to talk after the season and I’m hoping that means late May or early June.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.