As training camp kicks off this week, many are wondering if a new coach will turn the tide for the Hurricanes. Meet Bill Peters, the newly minted ‘Canes head coach. He is 48 years old, a former
player, and has been coaching in various capacities since 1996. He has coached at the collegiate level, in the WHL, the AHL, and the NHL. He led U18 Team Canada to the gold medal as their head coach in the 2008 Junior World Cup. Most recently he was an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings, working primarily with Detroit’s defensemen and penalty kill units.
Peters was hired in June to replace the oft-maligned Kirk Muller.
Much of the post-season scuttlebutt around the team blamed Muller for the team’s playoff absence of late. There was talk of his not getting along with team captain Eric Staal – talk of him trying to make Staal fit into a mold of play that he was not accustomed to or comfortable in. Muller was seemingly not able to consistently get the team prepared mentally to play. First period malaise seemed to be predictable night in and night out under the former coach, and no one – fans, sports media, or even team members had an explanation. On May 5th the team decided that 3 years was enough and showed Muller the door.
As the 2014-15 season looms, fans of the Carolina Hurricanes are hopeful that Bill Peters will be the catalyst for putting their team back into the NHL playoffs. He does not have an NHL head-coaching pedigree, but he does have experience as a coach, and he has been successful at every stop along the way. He has led teams to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL Champions and the Memorial Cup as Canadian Hockey League champions. He has led teams to the Rockford Cup playoffs in the AHL and has consistently posted winning seasons at every level. Can he do the same in Raleigh?
Some See Peters as a Rookie Coach That Won’t Help
I recently read a column which predicted the Hurricanes might as well throw in the towel this season and set their sights on the 2015 draft and prospect Connor McDavid. The team was described as a bad team that did nothing to get better in the offseason. According to this columnist, having a rookie head coach in Peters will not help the ‘Canes this season.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, especially when prognosticating about a team’s expectations. In this case, I disagree. Coach Peters may be a “rookie” as a head coach at the NHL level, but he is no novice to the sport, or to the discipline of coaching. He was a successful head coach leading up to his spot as an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings are not an “also-ran” organization, and I do not think that Peters would have been around for 3 seasons if he were a slacker or inept.
Peters Can Turn the Tide For the Hurricanes
I believe that Coach Peters can turn the tide for the Hurricanes. I’ve listened closely to his public comments and he seems to mean business.
Of course, anyone can talk the talk, and the proof will be in what happens on the ice. But as a ‘Canes fan, I am genuinely excited and look forward to two possible immediate improvements under Coach Peters:
Better starts: It doesn’t take a hockey genius to see that the Hurricanes need to start better. I’ve covered this before as have others. Coach Peters came right out with the truth that this team must start better if it hopes to improve on recent performance. Here is the question: Can Coach Peters get this team mentally prepared when Kirk Muller could not? We will see fairly quickly if he can. If so, I stand by my assertions that this team has legitimate playoff hopes. If not, I hope they have Connor McDavid on speed-dial.
Better Power Play: Everyone who follows the Carolina has talked repeatedly about the ‘Canes power play. It has been flaccid at best. Coach Peters addressed this in his introductory press conference as another area in need of work. I am hopeful he will be able to utilize the talents of former Hurricane and current power play coach Rod Brind’Amour to their full advantage. Shooting the puck aggressively must start immediately for this team on the power play. I think Coach Peters knows this and will work hard with Brind’Amour to make it happen.
Of course there are myriad other things for a coach – rookie or otherwise to consider. Roster spots, line combinations, etc are just a couple. But if Coach Bill Peters can address the power play and the team preparedness concerns, then the team has a great chance of succeeding. What do you think? Can a “rookie” coach get it done?
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.