It wasn’t meant to be. The Hurricanes bowed out to Boston in five games to end this season, but they made steps forward, and Rod Brind’Amour is proud of his group.
Here’s a full breakdown of everything the Canes’ head coach had to say after the season-ending loss:
On playing at a level to beat Boston: I think we played at a level to beat them. I feel like I’m really proud of this team. They do it right. We responded, which is the best thing. We walk out of here with our head high in terms of the effort, especially tonight. I thought we were the better team. They got a couple funny bounces and we couldn’t get a break on the bounces. But I thought the maturity of our group from last year to this year, we took a huge step. We’ve closed the gap here from the elite teams. I think we’re closing in. As long as we learn what it takes to win, which I think we are and we have this series, I think it’s going to help this group moving forward. Again, I’m just really proud of this team.
On what made Boston the better team: I think it’s that process of knowing and learning how to win. I think they were a little more patient with their game. I think when we got frazzled at times and got off our game, and they just stayed with it, they hunkered down, they blocked a lot of shots. We did what we did to be successful, and we at times tried to do too much. We got away from our game. That’s part of it, but I feel like we’re missing a lot of players tonight that could really help us. I just think if they’re in the lineup, we’re heading in the right direction. Again, our leaders are great, great players, but they’re also good people in there. The will to win is in here.
On what Justin Williams has meant: He’s such a good person, ambassador for the game. For me, you ask me what he meant for me being here, he meant everything, just to have that leader but that friend to go to. I was new at this. Everything I asked, he made sure the team did, and made my job really easy. I’m not sure what his plans are, you have to ask him, but I can’t say enough good things about Justin Williams.
On making this a relevant franchise: That’s what I take the most pride in. That’s what we talked about. We want to win. We’re saddened that we’re not still playing, that’s why we do this, but there’s more to it. We want to be that organization that’s continually talked about to have a chance to win and for our community to be proud of the team and how they play, how they represent. It means more than it has in the past, I think. I feel like our guys buy that and show it by the way they play.
On what he’ll remember about coaching in 2020: That’s a deep question. The reality of it is we’re playing a game and we’re really fortunate to be doing it. I think that came to the forefront when it got taken away. And now we still were able to play and try to provide some joy to people. But I don’t think we ever took it for granted. I think that’s something you try to preach. I think that’s something that, at times, you do, and now for sure, going through all this, you just realize how fortunate we are that we get to do this job. I think on the broader spectrum of it all, we’re going home right now to see our families. We couldn’t be happier to do that. I think everybody in the world realizes that and appreciates their family a lot more going through all this.
On if these runs are pushing the Canes towards being a team like the Bruins: Totally. That’s my point. When we first lined up against them, they know how to win, they’ve been there. But they had to learn some tough lessons too along the way, that core group. They had some tough times early when they were together. I think that’s what made them the team that they are. I think that’s what we’re doing here. I really believe that. Time will tell, but we’ll see.