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2018 Canes Media Day: New Voices and New Leaders

This season’s media day marked a new look and a new beginning in Hurricanes history. What does the future hold for the retooled squad?

Jordan Martinook was among the new faces at Tuesday’s media day.
Jamie Kellner

This season’s media day was one of new beginnings. It marks the first such gathering of the Tom Dundon era and the first with Rod Brind’Amour as the locker room leader. It’s a new era of Carolina Hurricanes hockey, and it was ushered in by new voices.

One of those new voices, Jordan Martinook, described the Canes as a very fast team who are tough to keep up with. “I was actually surprised to kind of see where they ended up last year,” said the former Arizona Coyotes forward.

The team’s most outspoken envoy, Justin Williams, echoed Martinook’s sentiment. “I think that we underacheived last year, I thought that we were better than where we ended up,” said Williams. “But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter.”

And he’s right, it doesn’t matter; you are what your record says you are. But that’s a tough pill to swallow for Hurricanes fans who were sold on real playoff hopes a season ago.

“The good news is I know we’re going to have a really good team. I’m not going to sit here and make promises, but all I know is we have a really, really good team,” Williams said with a laugh.

After signing in Raleigh on the first day of free agency last summer, Mr. Game 7 pronounced that the Carolina Hurricanes were done losing. They weren’t, but it was through no fault of his.

A lot has changed in the year since Williams made a return to the colors he lifted his first of three Stanley Cups in. The franchise was sold. The team parted ways with a general manager, then did likewise with a coach. They traded away two 5th overall draft picks, said goodbye to a franchise goalie of 14 seasons, and shipped out a big time goal scorer in Jeff Skinner. Quite a ride.

The Ron Francis era in Carolina was defined by a slow, methodical rebuild. That rebuild came to a head last season, and it blew up in spectacular fashion. But the effects of the Francis process were evident at media day yesterday, as Williams talked about Sebastian Aho having no ceiling. We saw the Francis era in one of the best prospects in hockey, Martin Necas, as he talked about his outstanding prospect camp performance with the Hurricanes and his aspirations to make a crack at the NHL lineup. And in a way, we felt the effects of Francis’ calculated tenure as GM when we talked to Necas’ new roommate, and another one of the NHL’s top prospects, Andrei Svechnikov.

But the Francis era is over, and so is the rebuild.

The attention has shifted from one franchise legend to the next, as Rod Brind’Amour is now in the Hurricanes spotlight. Brind’Amour has always been a leader by example, and it appears that he’s already made a good impression on his players. Haydn Fleury spoke of needing to keep up with the man known in his playing career as “Rod the Bod,” saying “If we can be close to him, we’ll be good.”

Martinook was appreciative of his head coach, who once was a similar newcomer to the area, as he handles his own uprooting and relocation from Arizona to North Carolina. “For him to be able to relate to the things that I’m going through at the time was really nice to see.”

Last season was a colossal dissapointment. Chalk it up to what you may, but the players have firmly put it in the rear view mirror now. The Hurricanes have a lot of new exciting voices in the room: Calvin de Haan, Svechnikov, Dougie Hamilton, the list goes on.

But we’ve had excitement in Raleigh before. This team has something to prove.

And no one knows that better than Justin Williams, who said, “Words are just words. We’ve gotta go out there and earn this area’s time back and turn this into a hockey town yet again.”