It’s time, Tom Dundon.
Blow it up. Blow it all up. Bill Peters? Ron Francis? Anyone who has been here for more than ten minutes? They all need to be on the chopping block.
The NHL’s trade deadline passed Monday afternoon at 3:00, and the Hurricanes did next to nothing. No waiver claims. No callups. One trade, Josh Jooris to the Penguins for Greg McKegg, that almost seems more like a thumb in the eye to a long-suffering fanbase than it does a move to actually improve the team.
It’s past the point that we can give Francis even the benefit of the doubt. After listening to him and Peters say for five months that the team, as constructed, can make the playoffs, then watched that team do everything in their power to prove their coach and general manager wrong, the Canes’ braintrust doubled down, inexplicably.
And it came, ironically enough, on a day when Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff pulled off a shocker to rent Paul Stastny for the stretch run. Cheveldayoff once went four years after taking over as GM when the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg without making an NHL player-for-NHL player deal. Now, that indignity belongs solely to Francis.
If you want to make the case that Francis shouldn’t buy, given the inflated prices on the market today (Ryan Hartman moved for a first-rounder, for heaven’s sake), fine. If you want to make the case that Francis shouldn’t sell, given that they’re just out of the playoffs and are one winning streak away from being right back in it, fine.
But both of those can’t be true. Francis sat on his hands Monday. He didn’t improve his team, either now or for the future. And that’s inexcusable.
It was a seller’s market at the deadline, and honestly it would be more understandable if Francis had just started selling pieces off - Derek Ryan, Lee Stempniak, name a player - because at least then there wouldn’t be any delusions. If the St. Louis Blues, who are one point out of the playoffs, decided to essentially throw up the white flag by trading Stastny, who do the Hurricanes think they’re fooling?
What gives Francis the impression that the team as currently constructed can make the playoffs? This season is four months old. You are who you are. And the Hurricanes, right now, are not a playoff team, nor will they be when the first weekend of April rolls around.
Sure, this is partly on Peters, even though he has been shouting from the rooftops that he wants help going all the way back to last summer. This is an organizational failing. It’s on Francis for not being decisive and muddling his way through the season. It’s on Peters for not properly using his players. It’s on everyone on the roster.
Francis continued to toe the company line on Monday. We’re not going to sacrifice the future. The prices to buy were too high. We think we have a team that can make it, and remember, we’re only three points out. And on, and on, and on. It’s a straight copy and paste from last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. Pull back the curtain and there’s nothing there.
“I think, from where we were to where we are now, is better,” Francis told the media. “We’re in a playoff hunt, and this is a legitimate one. The next 20 games we’ll get a pretty good read on our players moving forward.”
Honest question: if we’re 60 games into the season, and you need the final 20 to “get a pretty good read,” what were the first sixty games for?
The inaction on Monday specifically can be defended, when taken in a vacuum. But it continues a troubling trend. The trade of Jooris was the Canes’ first trade since acquiring Marcus Kruger in July of last year. Part of Francis’ job is trying to make his team better, by whatever means necessary. After the last eight months of inaction, can anyone say with a straight face that he has made the team better this season?
Give Francis credit: every time he meets the media, his explanations are completely defensible. But it’s the bigger picture that’s the problem, and that’s where Francis’ shortcomings come into focus. By being so focused on the process that should lead to the desired results, no deviation from that process even enters the equation.
We’re four years into this rebuild, and the Hurricanes are spinning their wheels. Who you want to assign the majority of the blame to is irrelevant. There is plenty to go around, and this season is six weeks away from going down as a spectacular failure.
And that calls for a house cleaning. Four years is long enough. If Francis isn’t going to do something about a roster that everyone agreed should be a playoff-bound one and likely won’t be - and he might get one more shot at it this summer - then it’s time for Dundon to find someone who will.