Two things are absolute facts. First, the Carolina Hurricanes have not made the playoffs since 2009. Second, they have a strong tie to their community and do a lot of great work for the area.
In the NHL, it’s important for a team to play to their own strengths. If they are particularly skilled at defense, then it is up to them to load up the back end. If they’re stacked with a bunch of hot-shot shooters, then it’s incumbent upon that team to develop a more run-and-gun style offense. Playing to a team’s strengths is essential to success in the league.
That being said, it’s obvious what head coach Bill Peters needs to do. Allow the Hurricanes to focus on being good people, and forget about ever making the playoffs again.
This is genius because a fan-base who sees the players as accessible and productive members of the community, are more likely to come out to the games. Also, it spares the fans of the disappointment of one more year not in the postseason. When fans don’t expect the postseason, then they will be delighted when the Hurricanes have a huge turnout for Kids N Community events like the St. Baldricks night, or Casino Night.
Why try to be a solid postseason team when it’s clear the organization isn’t going to give them the tools to do it? Just drive in your lane.
The Hurricanes are uniquely skilled in this area. Charismatic players like Justin Faulk — who are fun to be around but can’t perform in the clutch — will be given the opportunity to shine. Rather than worrying about turning the puck over in the defensive end for the third time in a game, Faulk can work on shaking hands and high fiving kids at local charity events. It’s something he can’t screw up — unlike a Power Play.
The Hurricanes have four, maybe five players that are shoe-ins for the Lady Byng Trophy, should the team adopt this new philosophy.
Hurricanes fans don’t like letting go of players. When players are traded, they freak out. They obviously don’t want a Stanley Cup contender team, and would rather see a bunch of nice guys who smile for pictures with the kids. That’s the kind of good people and family-oriented folks that would make the Hurricanes a championship team — of being nice.
The playoffs are just not for you, Hurricanes fans. Your destiny lies elsewhere. In the handshakes and photo-ops generated by 5k races and visits to local schools. Who needs a Stanley Cup, anyway? You can bank on the 2006 Cup for another 10, 15 years.
Just be good people.
Ray Gillette is a columnist for RantSports.com and former analyst and commentator for WGFY in Bangor, ME.