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About Last Season: Coaching Staff & Front Office

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Rod Brind’Amour and Don Waddell led the way, but there are a lot of players on the coaching staff and front office that make it all work.

Jamie Kellner

Hockey truly is a team sport, perhaps the most of any sport. It takes every single person doing their best to win. But that doesn’t mean just the guys on the ice; there are some extremely important roles off the ice that help make the team go. From a rookie head coach, to new hire assistants, to an owner who was just as focused on football this year as he was hockey, let’s dive in to the year that was for the coaching staff and front office.


Rod Brind’Amour

Jamie Kellner

Rod Brind’Amour has had plenty of amazing years in Raleigh while wearing a jersey. But since he retired in 2010, he had taken much more of a back-burner position, serving as an assistant coach for many years. When Bill Peters decided to leave last off season many people questioned the move to give Brind’Amour the head coaching job since he had no head coaching experience.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Brind’Amour not only exceeded expectations in his rookie season behind the bench, he outright obliterated them. Quickly becoming the most successfully first year head coach in franchise history, good old #17 guided the Hurricanes to a place that neither of his two predecessors could: the playoffs. But just making the playoffs was not enough, as he had said from day one that was not the goal. The goal was to advance in the playoffs and make Raleigh a hockey market once again.

There were many bumps along the way for Brind’Amour and he learned as the year went on how to handle in game decisions better, manage ice time for young players, and how to be an NHL head coach. The power play continued to struggle as it has for years. But none of that ever fazed Rod and his goals.

While he should have been a Jack Adams finalist, Brind’Amour, never one for glitz and glamour, would likely tell you he’d rather not be a finalist, as that would take him away from his scouting, video watching, and rigorous workout routine. Despite missing out on the Vegas award he and the Hurricanes did get recognized by Gov. Roy Cooper after the season ended:

There really is not much more Brind’Amour could have done behind the bench this season. It’s easy to look at a guy like Craig Berube and say Brind’Amour fell just short of the ultimate goal, but RBA had other things to do as a head coach here that Berube did not. The Hurricanes have been returned to relevance, they are finally a playoff team, and they look poised to be even better under Brind’Amour’s leadership going in to next year.


Jeff Daniels

Jamie Kellner

When Brind’Amour was named head coach last year he knew right away who he wanted to be beside him on the bench filling the assistant void left by his promotion. That man was Jeff Daniels. A longtime Hurricane like Brind’Amour, Daniels has been with the organization for 22 years in numerous capacities including as an assistant on the 2006 Cup team. Daniels was tasked with running the forwards and helping Brind’Amour install a work ethic in to the players like never seen before in Raleigh.

Daniels key contributions to the staff was his experience. He knew how to help guide Rod when he needed to as he has been around the coaching game for many years including being a head coach at the AHL level. While you may not have heard his name a ton throughout the season, it was apparent Daniels was doing a great job by the results on the ice. Things got better as the season progressed and sometimes the less you hear the better when it comes to assistant coaches.


Dean Chynoweth

Jamie Kellner

Hired as a replacement for Steve Smith, Dean Chynoweth, much like Daniels, flew under the radar for most of the season. The defense started the year shaky as they got used to a new coach, but settled in quite nicely by seasons end. He brought with him head coaching experience in the AHL and assistant experience with the Islanders. One would say he had a successful year because the defense got better as the year went on.


Mike Bales

Jamie Kellner

Outside of Brind’Amour, Mike Bales likely had the most difficult job this season for the coaching staff. Originally planning to have Petr Mrazek and Scott Darling as his two goalies, Bales was thrown a curve ball when Darling got hurt and Curtis McElhinney was claimed off waivers. Nobody knew what to expect from the goaltenders this year as it was the first season since 2006 that Cam Ward wasn’t in the mix.

Bales and Brind’Amour worked together perfectly with Rod telling media members he let Bales make the call on who was going to start every game. Bales is a great goaltending coach and has the wits to make great judgement calls. It is no surprising that when the Buffalo Sabres came calling and offering Bales a promotion he took it. He has earned a chance to be more than a goaltending coach and in Buffalo he will get that opportunity. It does however, leave a massive hole for the Hurricanes to fill.


Chris Huffine and LJ Scarpace

Jamie Kellner

It was another very successful year for video coaches Chris Huffine and LJ Scarpace. The paid made multiple calls to Brind’Amour in game letting him know when to challenge plays and they were spot on. The highlight of the year was when the duo saved a goal in two straight games during the month of January.

For Huffine and Scarpace, it’s actually a good thing when you hear their names and Caniacs got to know both throughout the season for saving multiple goals against. Rarely seen by the public eye, these two make some of the most impactful calls of any of the coaches game in and game out.


Don Waddell

2019 NHL Awards - Nominee Media Availability Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

For general managers their season starts when the Stanley Cup is raised. What they do during the actual season is just a small piece of a much larger puzzle. Waddell’s year began nearly a year ago when he pulled off a blockbuster deal at the draft sending Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to Calgary for Micheal Ferland, Dougie Hamilton, and Adam Fox. He was considered the winner of that trade at the time but it appears on Hamilton will remain with the team going in to next season so the jury is still out on that deal.

He brought in Petr Mrazek and Calvin de Haan in free agency and had the Hurricanes primed for the season.

Then things got ugly for Waddell as he sent Jeff Skinner to Buffalo for nearly nothing in return only to see Skinner have a career season for the Sabres. The Caniacs were less than pleased with the deal and many still have a sour taste in their mouths to this day.

But as the Hurricanes entered the season Waddell and his associates on the 4th floor of PNC Arena pulled of a fantastic waiver wire addition bringing in Curtis McElhinney. He then pulled off one of the most lopsided trades in Hurricanes history when he dealt Victor Rask to Minnesota for Nino Niederreiter straight up. This trade essentially made up for the Skinner deal and Niederreiter stepped right in a became a top line producer for the Hurricanes during their stretch run.

While Waddell is publicly known for his signings and trades, many forget he is still pulling double duty serving as the team President as well. All of this combined with the season the Canes had and it is easy to see why he was named a finalist for GM of the Year.


Tom Dundon

Jamie Kellner

After Tom Dundon purchased the Hurricanes in January 2018 he quickly became the face of the franchise. He was doing press conferences, interviews with media, sitting in on exit interviews with players, and so on. He was everywhere there was to be when it came to the Hurricanes. But as the team entered the 2018-19 season he was much less prominent and much more focused on keeping the attention on the actual team.

While the Hurricanes where winning Dundon was working on other off ice interest and he earned himself a fairly bad look to the national media when he purchased, and then weeks later shut down, the Alliance of American Football. Dundon took a tough PR hit as his decision to shut the league down left a lot of people without jobs and medical care.

But when it came to the Hurricanes he kept a happy face on and proudly supported his team whether he was in Raleigh or elsewhere. He appears to be well on his way to securing an outdoor game in Raleigh along with improvements to PNC Arena. Dundon genuinely seems to want to help make Raleigh a hockey market once again which is what this team has needed for years.


Polls

Poll

How do you grade Rod Brind’Amour’s 2018-19 season?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    A - Outstanding performance
    (124 votes)
  • 9%
    B - Above average performance
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    C - Average performance
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    D - Below average performance
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    F - Significantly below average performance
    (0 votes)
137 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How do you grade Jeff Daniels’ 2018-19 season?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    A - Outstanding performance
    (29 votes)
  • 47%
    B - Above average performance
    (56 votes)
  • 23%
    C - Average performance
    (28 votes)
  • 3%
    D - Below average performance
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    F - Significantly below average performance
    (0 votes)
117 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How do you grade Dean Chynoweth’s 2018-19 season?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    A - Outstanding performance
    (31 votes)
  • 54%
    B - Above average performance
    (60 votes)
  • 18%
    C - Average performance
    (20 votes)
  • 0%
    D - Below average performance
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    F - Significantly below average performance
    (0 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How do you grade Mike Bales’ 2018-19 season?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    A - Outstanding performance
    (99 votes)
  • 14%
    B - Above average performance
    (17 votes)
  • 2%
    C - Average performance
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    D - Below average performance
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    F - Significantly below average performance
    (0 votes)
119 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How do you grade Don Waddell’s 2018-19 season?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    A - Outstanding performance
    (51 votes)
  • 55%
    B - Above average performance
    (70 votes)
  • 3%
    C - Average performance
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    D - Below average performance
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    F - Significantly below average performance
    (0 votes)
126 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How do you grade Tom Dundon’s 2018-19 season?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    A - Outstanding performance
    (40 votes)
  • 53%
    B - Above average performance
    (66 votes)
  • 14%
    C - Average performance
    (18 votes)
  • 0%
    D - Below average performance
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    F - Significantly below average performance
    (0 votes)
124 votes total Vote Now