Ever since Ron Francis was bumped upstairs and out of the Carolina Hurricanes general manager’s chair on March 7, the Canes have been a team in transition, approaching their first offseason under new owner Tom Dundon in uncharted territory. With a new GM on the way in, Dundon has remained steadfast and effusive in his praise of coach Bill Peters, telling the North State Journal last week that Peters would not have his fate determined before the Canes hire Francis’ replacement.
But there’s one person who can upend that timetable on his own: Bill Peters.
In Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts column this week, it was revealed that Peters has an option to terminate his contract that will be exercised - or not - shortly after the season ends:
Carolina’s Bill Peters has one year remaining on his contract, but, according to several sources, he has an “out” after this season. He’s obviously not going to talk about it while the Hurricanes are still playing, but my understanding is he has approximately one week after their season ends to activate it. Peters has a $1.6-million salary for 2018-19.
With the organizational upheaval ongoing, and unlikely to end anytime soon, could Peters decide that now is the time to move onto greener pastures? There are plenty of factors at play which could influence his decision.
The Case To Stay
As Friedman mentioned, should Peters decide to hang around, he has one year remaining on his contract, a season that by any objective standard should see the Hurricanes take steps forward after a year that, to be kind, fell short of expectations. Lately he has praised the prospect pipeline that Francis left behind, which has seen a superb NHL debut from Warren Foegele and key contributions from Valentin Zykov and Roland McKeown in recent days.
It seems clear that Peters is a believer in the future of the team, and skipping town before seeing it fulfill its potential could leave future suitors wondering if he is a new-age Denis Savard or Glen Hanlon, coaches who had the pieces but couldn’t get everything to work together before a Joel Quenneville or a Bruce Boudreau came in to complete the puzzle. Not coincidentally, neither of those gentlemen has held an NHL head-coaching position since leaving their former teams.
Peters was also unafraid to call out Francis multiple times advocating for what he believed he needed for his team to be successful, and he never really received what he was looking for. With a new GM joining the club in the near future, Peters may have more of an opportunity to mold the Hurricanes roster in the way he prefers than he would if he went to another team with an established GM in place.
It’s probably also worth noting that $1.6 million isn’t chump change, and unless you’re assured that you would make up a decent bit of that at a new gig, that’s a good bit of money to willingly walk away from. The fact that it has been described as an out clause presumably means that the Canes would owe Peters at least some compensation should he take advantage of it, but it almost certainly wouldn’t be a full buyout.
And, of course, who knows if there are authorized Kinetico water dealers anywhere else in the NHL?
The Case to Go
This season has been a strange one across the league: barring a total shock in the final week-plus of the season, this will be the first season since 1966-67 - the year before the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams - that no coach was fired midseason. But that doesn’t mean that the offseason will be so quiet. The buzzards are circling, probably unfairly but who’s to judge, around Quenneville’s head in Chicago. Doug Weight seems unlikely to survive the Islanders’ collapse. Glen Gulutzan could also pay the price for a similarly underwhelming Flames season. There will be an out-of-left-field firing, because there almost always is.
Peters deciding to leave could be a bet on himself. He’s highly respected around the league, especially by analytics-driven decision makers. Could he hit the road from Carolina hoping to fall into a more lucrative situation, knowing that at least a couple will open up?
It could also be that he’s burned out after a long season and wants a fresh start. This season has been a grind, and while it hasn’t had a “make-an-effing-save” moment, there has been plenty of frustration. Four years without seeing the playoffs is a long, long time in a league where more than half the teams make the postseason, and Peters may think that another year like the one about to be completed may render him radioactive to potential employers down the road.
And, of course, there’s the open question of who Peters’ next boss is going to be, a decision that presumably won’t be finalized by the time he needs to make his decision on whether to pick up the final year of his contract. It’s perfectly defensible for Peters to not want to hang around through the uncertainty and get saddled with a GM who might not be a good fit - or, worse, who might decide on his own that Peters won’t be returning. Could he be that out-of-left-field firing mentioned above? Would Peters want to risk it?
You Make The Call
With only a week or so to make a decision following the last game of the season, time isn’t on Peters’ side. He will need to make the call, in all likelihood, before knowing who the next GM will be, and certainly before he knows what moves will be made to improve the team for next season.
So...what’s your choice?
If you were Bill Peters, what would you do?
This poll is closed
Plan to come back for the final contract year
Exercise the out clause and hit the job market