Following the Carolina Hurricanes’ exit from the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs this past week, Canes’ head coach Rod Brind’Amour and general manager Don Waddell met with the media via Zoom to discuss the past season and what lies ahead.
Here is what Brind’Amour had to say in that meeting:
On what he takes away from this year’s series with the Bruins, and if there were steps forward from last year’s series: I mean, there’s no question about that. I felt like this year we were in every game, which obviously we were, even though I don’t even know that we played our best in every game. There were times where I was like ‘I don’t really like what we are doing, but we’re still in the game.’ Obviously, our best game was the last game and unfortunately we didn’t get it. We did close the gap there. It certainly felt different this year playing them than last year. The result is the same at the end of the day, but I feel like our guys especially took a big step this year, our younger players. Like I said after, as long as we learn from that the experience will be valuable moving forward.
On what strides he wants to see from Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov in 2020-21: Obviously the talent is there with those two guys, but what excites me, and you’ve heard me say this all the time, is their will to get better. These guys are not satisfied with where they are individually, and certainly not team wise. I think, especially seeing Sebastian after we were done, it’s the look on his face of pure devastation really. This guy wants to win. When you have that will to win and that desire to work at it. Everybody wants to win, but not everybody wants to do what it takes. You obviously know with Svechnikov that’s the same way. When you have those two guys as our superstar players, and they are our young guys, that’s what makes you excited with where we are at and where we are headed.
On the difficulties of being in the bubble, and on how nice it was to get back and see family: You have to give credit to everybody involved. To be honest with you, it couldn’t have run any smoother. Our point of view when we first came back here to train, how our staff handled everything, and then when the league took over and we got into the bubble, how smoothly everything ran. They did everything they needed to do. You have to give them full marks for that. Having said that, it’s obviously not the ideal situation. We’re no different than anybody else. Family always comes first, and I think that was the big sacrifice as far as the players; that you have to leave your families for this whole time. There’s a willingness to do it and they put the effort in.
On what Justin Williams has meant to the franchise, particularly in the last three years: To me, he epitomizes what we are all about. He’s class. He’s team first. It’s just coming to do your job every day. This guy does everything right. He came here and took on a leadership role, especially when I took over. He helped put this place on the map and helped get us back on track to where we all want to be, which is to strive to be one of the best teams every year. He helped right the ship, I think. He was a key part of that for sure. If he doesn’t play anymore, he left everything out there. That’s not something many guys can say, that they can go out on those kinds of terms where they had absolutely nothing left in the tank. He gave it all.
On if he had a chance to talk to Williams, and on if he has any indication as to what his plans are: I’ve talked to him... I can’t tell you one way or another. It was pretty emotional after the game talking with him. He certainly didn’t let on to what he was thinking.
On if there’s anything he’s experienced with coaching during a pandemic that may help him moving forward: The more I did this and the more we got into it, I would say it was normal. Everything else in your life I’d say yes, but when we actually got to come in the door, aside from the masks and the awareness to social distance, everything felt normal. Everything felt the same. I can’t say doing anything hockey wise I took and said ‘oh, this is going to be a better way to do things.” This was the one time, when we were here for a couple hours, that everything felt normal.
On if there’s anything he saw from other teams that may lead to implementing something new in the system moving forward: You’re always looking for things. Everyone takes stuff from every team. At the end of the day, you’d be surprised how closely everyone does the exact same thing. We definitely talked about a couple areas that we’d like to adjust, but we do that through the year. We’re just finding ways to be better. But what I do know is that you’ve got to know what you do well, and you’ve got to keep trying to get better at that. If you get away from your identity as a team, that’s when you get in trouble. I know what we have to do to be successful. We have to get better in all areas for sure. Tweaking our game a little, but you certainly don’t want to blow up something that you know will be successful.