After weeks of waiting on the fate of head coach Bill Peters, the team announced Friday that Peters has resigned from his position. Peters exercised the opt-out clause in his contract to do so, thus ensuring that the Carolina Hurricanes won’t have to pay him through the remaining year of his contract (as they would if new majority owner Tom Dundon had simply fired him). Over four seasons with the Hurricanes, Peters finished with a record of 137-138-53 and never finished higher than sixth in the division.
Rumors have run rampant about a potential coaching change since Dundon promoted Ron Francis to President of Operations. At the time, Dundon had expressed his faith in Peters, but as the Canes plummeted down the Metropolitan standings, Dundon’s confidence wavered.
It does not look like Peters will be out of a job for long, as the Calgary Flames organization has shown heavy interest in hiring him as their new head coach. Reportedly, the Flames asked for permission to speak with him on Thursday and are considering him as the top candidate for their coaching vacancy.
Whether they want to promote internally or hire from the outside, the Canes currently have many options to replace Peters. Within the organization, former Hurricanes captain Rod Brind’Amour seems to be the most logical choice, as he is already an assistant coach for the Canes with a focus on development.
Mike Vellucci, head coach of the Charlotte Checkers, who are currently in the Calder Cup playoffs, is another option. Vellucci is also the assistant general manager and director of player operations for the Canes.
However, there are a variety of options for hiring from outside the program, most notably Alain Vigneault, who was recently fired from the New York Rangers. Other options include Dave Tippett, former Arizona Coyotes coach, who’s been one of the biggest names on the coaching market since he left Arizona.
Peters’ resignation wasn’t the only important change made over the past few days. On Thursday, the Canes hired Paul Krepelka as VP of Hockey Operations, focusing on contract negotiations. Krepelka was one of the co-founders and a partner in Orr Hockey Group, which represents a handful of current Canes players, including Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal and Cam Ward, as well as some big names across the league including Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall.
Krepelka’s hiring is interesting due to the class of free agents who need new contracts this summer, most notably RFAs Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. Negotiations can also begin soon to extend pending UFA Jeff Skinner and pending RFAs Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teräväinen and Brock McGinn, whose contracts are all up at the end of next season. With an executive specifically focusing on contract negotiations, these important contracts will be a lot easier to hammer out.
There have been no updates on the general manager vacancy, and the expectation is that Don Waddell will continue as interim GM until a permanent hire can be made. It’s likely that a GM hire will happen before coaches are considered, so Canes fans are just going to have to wait in limbo until that gets figured out.
- The Checkers won the first two games of their first round series against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Alex Nedeljkovic returned to the net for the first time since the end of March. The Checkers scored two unanswered goals in the third period of Game 1 to force overtime, and they eventually won off a Lucas Wallmark goal. Game 2 was deadlocked at 1-1 until Josiah Didier broke the tie late in the third period, and Haydn Fleury scored an empty-netter to seal the deal. The future is bright.
- Jordan Staal was named one of three finalists for the Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to the player who, “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.” Staal and his wife lost their infant daughter Heather earlier in the season.