Early Wednesday afternoon, "99.9 The Fan" put on what they called a Fan Town Hall Meeting, in which Hurricanes fans could send tweets with questions to ask of Don Waddell, Ron Francis, and Bill Peters. Mike Maniscalco hosted the event and also put forth many questions of his own.
The session lasted 90 minutes and you can watch it all here: Canes Town Hall Meeting.
For those of you who missed it and don't have the time to watch the entire clip right now, I will review some of what was said and chip in with a few comments as well.
Maniscalco started right off with the Dan Patrick rumor about the team possibly moving to Las Vegas and of course that was shot down quickly. "This franchise isn't going anywhere", said Waddell. (Hopefully, he didn't say the same thing about the Thrashers...just joking). Enough said about that.
There was some talk about NHL expansion. The entrance fees would go to the owners and is not to be a part of the 50/50 pool to be split with players.
The next question was "what makes this team a playoff team considering it is similar to others that have not made it in the past?"
Ron Francis again brought up the injuries that plagued the team last season and expects the players who had a bad season to be better, as well as the youngsters to improve. Every player will start on a clean slate as far as coach Peters is concerned.
Speaking of Peters, he was asked about the goaltending situation and he emphasized that both Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin would be fighting for the number one spot. He also stated that he would prefer not to rotate the goalies, he wants a number one guy. "We need a stud", were his exact words.
Khudobin had the 5th best save percentage in the NHL last season but it sounded to me like they wanted Ward to start and have Khudobin "push him".
Francis also spoke about Ward and it seems the Canes still expect him to be able to turn his past two seasons around and be the goalie he once was.
The next topic was concerning scouting and development. Francis would love to have the team be bigger, but it won't happen over night. They must draft better and develop better. They have discussed the importance of this internally.
Depth was also brought up and here is a key quote from Peters.
"When we bring a guy up from Charlotte, we're going to play him in a role he deserves to be played in. It makes no sense to bring up a skill guy and play him on the fourth line. It's counter-productive."
This is easier said than done, but at least they realize what should be done.
Peters also said that he feels the powerplay is close. Rod Brind'Amour is in charge of the powerplay and looks forward to the challenge. The coach wants the focus to be on puck possession, retrieving the puck, and not having to continually go down and chase it.
Francis also mentioned that Brind'Amour has spent a lot of time in his office over the summer reviewing tape on powerplay goals and he is anxious to improve it.
Again, it was mentioned that the Canes have made minor changes to a losing line up, how can they expect to improve? Francis went on to say that if it is proven they are wrong about some of these players, changes will be made. But he also made it clear that he would not make changes just for a short term fix. He wants to make moves that will eventually make the Canes contenders, year after year. He does not want to give up draft picks to move a contract, or just to make the playoffs for one year.
Peters stated that the team was "hungry."
The coach was asked about Jeff Skinner being on the third line and he responded that he wants three scoring lines and a "responsible" fourth line. With Jay McClement in the middle, they will be able to play with anyone. He will fiddle with chemistry to see who fits where. He will play Eric Staal at left wing sometimes. He has lots of flexibility and will experiment all preseason.
Peters wants his leaders to put the team first, over themselves.
Waddell was asked about season ticket holder benefits. The organization has decided to hold monthly meetings and hold a forum with some key season seat holders and ask them for feedback and suggestions. There was also talk of the in-game experience becoming stale. Apparently, some Canes Vision people were let go and other changes have been made. The entire in-game experience will be new.
There was a lot of discussion about an outdoor game, but there is nothing on the immediate horizon for Carolina.
They discussed the league standard of injury status reports - upper body or lower body. Francis gave the example that he played his first playoff series with two broken ribs and only had an assist in the series. He was dubbed afterward of being a guy who could not play in the playoffs, because no one knew he had broken ribs. But the purpose of the vague nature of the reports is to protect players.
Francis mentioned that they want players who will represent well in the community. The players do what they can and a lot goes unnoticed. They did not bring up the Kids and Community Foundation which is helped a lot by the players and that organization gives tons of money to local charities.
It was asked if the team might add someone yet, perhaps invite a veteran player to camp on a PTO. Francis wants to give a younger player a chance and take time to develop them. Don't count on any PTO's this season.
When asked about fighting, Peters was classic Peters. After saying he did not believe in staged fights, he followed up with this gem.
"When someone takes advantage of a teammate or takes advantage of you, you can't let that happen."
The next question was about analytics and Ron Francis said that they don't talk about that openly. They do use advanced stats, but do not want to reveal how they use them.
Peters was asked about the shootout and he said that he would like to see them look at different ways to do the overtime, including three-on-three. But the extra points are important and if the shootout is part of it, your team needs to be good at it.
There was more talk about the league in general and even the CBA, including playing in the Olympics. Needless to say, all players want to participate in the Olympics.
Peters was asked again about leadership. The coach said that he can only speak to the team so much and that really, the locker room is the player's sanctuary. He needs the team's leadership to buy into his message and reinforce it after he leaves. He followed up with another gem.
"The meeting after the meeting is more important than my meeting."
They spoke about the challenge of the early schedule and then finished things up.
All in all, it was an excellent session and very informative for fans. Hopefully, this can be an annual event, if not held more often.
I will be attending the media event at the PNC on Thursday and will report on that later in the day. Training camp is starting soon and the blog is going to be more active with something fresh every day, starting with player projections coming up next.