We'd heard it all before when we heard Bill Peters say it at media day in early September.
The Carolina Hurricanes' opening night roster would be a meritocracy, he said. The players who play the best in camp would be on the ice on October 10, he said.
You can be forgiven if you snickered upon hearing this, given that it sounded like the same bill of goods that's been sold to this fanbase since Peter Laviolette went to work with the defending Stanley Cup champions in 2006. But here we are on October 8, with Victor Rask, Chris Terry and Patrick Brown all penciled into the lineup Friday night, Cam Ward likely having played himself for now into the starter's job everyone figured would belong to Anton Khudobin, and Zach Boychuk and Chad LaRose nowhere to be found.
Rask in particular, despite a bit of a lull in the middle of camp, has more than proven that he deserves a spot, and probably would have earned one anyway even if Jordan Staal hadn't gone down with a broken leg. Terry and especially Brown can chalk up their spots to a bit of fortuitous timing, with Staal's and Jeff Skinner's injuries opening up spaces that otherwise wouldn't have been available.
But here's the point: none of us would have been at all surprised if the Canes, upon seeing two of their top six go down to injury, made a phone call to a Chuck Kobasew or a Dustin Penner, signed one of those guys (or someone similar) to a one-year deal for a million dollars or so, saved a spot for LaRose, and sent Rask and Terry carpooling with Boychuk back to Charlotte.
Rather, for the first time in God knows how long, the team has a plan that isn't "scramble something together with duct tape and bungee cords," and is sticking with the plan despite the circumstances being less than ideal.
In goal, unlike the dog-and-pony shows of previous training camps where Ward won the starter's job by virtue of showing up and lacing his skates, Ward and Khudobin actually had an honest-to-goodness competition, and Ward won out. He will likely start Friday night because he gives the Canes a better chance to win, and not because of the number of zeroes in his salary.
It's yet another example of how awry this franchise had gone under Paul Maurice and Kirk Muller, which becomes more and more clear with every passing day. Peters and Ron Francis are actually exacting change in a way that should have been done a long time ago.
If these are the new Hurricanes, this is a solid start - and yet another indication that business as usual has a different meaning.