Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters had some huge expectations to meet as the head coach of Team Canada at the World Championships this spring. Any result other than victory is pretty much unacceptable to the country that often claims the sport of hockey as it's own.
That's a lot of pressure.
Peters did not disappoint and came home with the gold medal after Team Canada blanked Finland, 2-0 in the final game last week. On Wednesday, the Hurricanes hosted a press conference so that local media could ask the coach some questions about the tournament and related matters.
Peters started off by saying it was a great experience.
"Hockey Canada does a great job assembling the team, first and foremost, and then giving you the resources to be successful. We had a great experience over there. They put together a very good, young team. It was a great group of guys to work with and a fantastic support staff and coaching staff. Anytime you can surround yourself with that caliber of people, you’re going to get better as a coach."
I asked the coach what the key to winning gold was, especially considering Team Finland was undefeated and looked pretty much unstoppable up to that point.
"They had a very good team. I thought our guys did a real good job of executing what we wanted to do. Our (offensive zone) forecheck was very good and I thought they had a hard time getting the puck out. We were very committed to managing the puck properly and we played with a lot of speed through the neutral zone. I thought we attacked. It was a very fun group to coach, a very hard-working team with a lot of skill, probably underrated skill. The young D just continued to get better and better, no different than what happened here last year in Carolina."
"You’re there together for a long time, so it’s a good opportunity to sit and talk hockey and get some different opinions."
He was asked about his impressions of Noah Hanifin and Sebastian Aho, and was also asked if he thought Aho would make the team next fall. He was impressed with both players and said Hanifin improved as the tournament went on. He had this to say about Aho-
"I’d be shocked if he comes in and can’t make our hockey team from what I’ve seen of him. I don’t think there’s pressure on him. We’ll bring him in, and if he makes our team, which we’d like to see happen, we’ll make sure we use him properly, surround him with good people and give him all the support he needs."
Peters was asked about some of his players being passed over by their respective teams regarding the upcoming World Cup.
"If they feel they were snubbed, they can use that as motivation."
He was asked about Cam Ward and he gave the goalie a vote of confidence on one hand by saying he was one of the top goalies in the league from December on, but he did admit that the slow start is what hurt the Canes last year and that the team needs to have a better start next season. Ward was obviously a part of that slow start.
When asked what the team needs moving forward he admitted that they need forwards and scoring. He is looking forward to Ron Francis working his "magic".
The coach was very upbeat, as usual, and is looking forward to the next season. He said he would be having dinner with Francis later in the week and might possibly discuss a contract extension then, but has had no such discussion yet.
In other news- Josh Wesley was signed to an entry level contract on June 1. The son of one of the select few to have his jersey retired by the Canes, has improved a lot and is looking forward to continuing his development in this organization.
Kyle Jenkins was not signed and the Canes have lost their rights to the former 7th round pick.