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What's Next For Carolina?

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With 12 fewer points earned than last season, the Hurricanes do not seem to be moving in the right direction

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

It's been another tough season for the Carolina Hurricanes.  For the sixth straight time, the team failed to qualify for the playoffs.  There is only one other team in the league who has a longer streak of ineptitude.  (Oilers).

But what's even worse, not only have they failed to make the playoffs, over the past four seasons they have not even come close.

  • 2014-15 = 71 points
  • 2013-14 = 83 points
  • 2012-13 = 42 points in 48 games (72 points over 82 game season)
  • 2011-12 = 82 points
It's tough on fans when their team is out of the running early on and they have to watch a number of meaningless games with little intensity. That has certainly had a major, negative impact at the gate.   (figures from ESPN)

  • 2014-15 average attendance per game = 12,594
  • 2013-14 average attendance per game = 15,483
  • 2012-13 average attendance per game = 17,558
The organization has suffered a decrease of 2,889 bodies per game, a drop of 19% from 2013-14 to this year.  Over the past two seasons, there has been a decrease of 28% attendance at the PNC.  That is a significant loss of revenue for any business.

The fans who have continued to attend games have noticed a larger and larger contingent of visiting jerseys and cheers in the stands meaning that the 12,000 that do show up are not all Carolina fans.

Amazingly, for a team that has been out of contention for as long as it has, the organization seems pretty content to keep the status quo and continue on as before with their player personnel.  They continually blame most of their ills on injuries.

Last summer, they brought back Ron Hainsey, Tim Gleason, and Brett Bellemore, pretty much keeping their defense the same as it was before.  The only outside changes to the forwards were the additions of Jay McClement, (who was extended recently for another two years), and Brad Malone.

Both goaltenders were brought back.  Most of the same faces from the previous team returned.

The Hockey News recently interviewed Ron Francis and the Carolina GM seemed upbeat, which surprised the interviewer.

After the previous administration and owner blamed the failures of the 2013-14 season on injuries, it looks like Francis is ready to do the same this time around as well.

"I don’t care what team you are – if you lose three of your top six forwards, it makes it tough to win in this league," Francis said. "It’s tough when you’re healthy, let alone when you’re missing top-end guys."

Last season, Peter Karmanos said something similar regarding his goalies.  I don't care what team you are, if you lose both of your goaltenders, you are going to be in trouble.  (paraphrasing)

Tell that to Ottawa and the "Hamburglar".

A team can either use injuries as an excuse, or they can use them as an opportunity for their youth to step up and show what they can do.  The rest of the team can either rise to the occasion to pick up the slack, or they can sink.

The Hurricanes were not even that injured this season compared to the other teams in the league.  They finished in the top half of the NHL with the  fewest man games lost.  It's hard to blame a lost season on injuries when the team was pretty much healthy the full last half of the season.

Are there any positives?  Yes, the special teams have improved, they have reduced shots on goal, and the team looks more structured while allowing fewer wide open opportunities in their own end.

As Francis points out in the THN article, the youth of the team is improving and seems promising.

The Canes finished third in the league in faceoff percentage, (53%) and were called for the fewest penalties in the league.

On the other hand, their scoring is down, their record was 12 points worse than last season, and they finished a full 27 points out of a playoff spot.  That's a lot of ground to make up.

They have a lot of high end salary hanging on the books that they have to figure out what to do with.

What will the Hurricanes do this offseason?  We will be watching.

While the season has ended in Carolina, we will still be active on the blog and will have something new posted each day.  There is usually something interesting going on in the league, even if the team is quiet.  Look for some end of season polls to come soon.

Ron Francis and Bill Peters will be addressing the media on Wednesday.  We will have a follow up article here soon afterward.