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Can Bill Peters find NHL success with Flames?

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The search for a new head coach lasted less than a week with Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving having interest in hiring only one man — Bill Peters.

It was six days ago that Treliving canned Gulutzan and said his next head coach would have NHL experience. Peters would decide on Friday to opt-out of the final year of his deal with the Carolina Hurricanes, which also meant walking away from a guaranteed $1.6 million salary for 2018-19. He immediately became favorite and the only candidate for the job.

“This is an individual I’m familiar with. This is the individual at the time once we made a change I was focused upon,” Treliving said on Monday. “I was very familiar with the field that was out there. There’s some great candidates. I was focused on Bill.”

Peters, who is an Alberta native and worked with Treliving at the 2016 IIHF World Championships, comes with four seasons of experience as an NHL head coach having led the Carolina Hurricanes since 2014-15. Those four seasons weren’t very successful, however, as the team finished with a combined 137-138-53 record and zero playoff appearances.

That lack of success wasn’t enough to deter Treliving from making the hire. The decision was based more on their brief time together on Canada’s staff two years ago and intel the GM has gathered over the years.

“He’s prepared. I think he’s a student of the modern game. I think he’s relationship-driven with players,” Treliving said. “He’s honest and direct, and as you’ll quickly come to realize, he’s going to be a tremendous addition to our staff.”

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

With Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton locked up long-term, Peters arrives in Calgary with a roster that has plenty of talent on both ends of the rink. The Hurricanes were a good possession team under him, and that’s one thing the new head coach wants to continue to see with his new roster.

“We’re going to play a game that’s puck possession, ‘D’ active. Face-offs are important — that’s your first 50/50 battle of your shift is a face-off,” Peters said. “I want to have the puck, I want to possess the puck. I want to make sure we have value on the puck when we have it, make good plays, strong plays with it, be hard on it, be a hard team to play against, take advantage of playing on the good ice at the Saddledome.”

While Carolina’s offensive numbers were fine under Peters, the defensive side did not improve. Yeah, there was some terrible goaltending that was a hindrance but the shot suppression did not get better with the Hurricanes allowing an average of 2.02 even strength shots more per game from Year 1 to Year 4.

Peters takes over a Flames team that saw a second half swoon destroy their playoff hopes and lead to the dismissal of their head coach. In Carolina, there was hope in the early days for growth with a young roster, but after a lack of progress as expectations increased during his tenure, it was clear what he was implementing wasn’t working and he could not get through to his players.

Wanting to be a top-10 team in primary statisical categories, the expectations are even higher now for Peters to succeed with the Flames. Will he get a different response here in Calgary compared to Carolina?

“I want to be a team that gets off to a good start, sustains that quality start and has a playoff spot wrapped up and you’re fighting for home ice,” Peters said. “That’s what I would love to see.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bill Peters opts out of contract to leave Hurricanes; next stop Calgary?

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Bill Peters had until Friday to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, freeing him from the final year of his deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. He did just that, and will now hit the open market with the Calgary Flames a heavy favorite for his next landing spot.

“I have a lot of respect for Bill as a person and coach,” said Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon said in a statement. “We thank him for his time with the Hurricanes and wish him success in whatever comes next.”

With $1.6 million guaranteed for next season if he stayed in Carolina, Peters wouldn’t be leaving without having a good idea that he’ll be able to step into another job this off-season. At the moment, there are head coaching openings with the Flames, Dallas Stars and New York Rangers.

Dundon wasn’t against Peters staying for the duration of his contract, as he’s shown he prefers keeping people around who have term left rather than firing them (Hi, Ron Francis!). But with Peters resigning, the Hurricanes are off the hook now for that $1.6 million.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

So where will Peters land? Well, the Flames have been the big favorite for a while, and the rumor mill sped up on Tuesday when Calgary decided to fire Glen Gulutzan after two seasons. General manager Brad Treliving said he wanted someone with NHL experience as a replacement and Peters would come to Alberta with a 137-138-53 record in four seasons with the Hurricanes, which includes zero playoff appearances.

It’s easy to tie Peters to the Calgary job. He’s from the area, worked with Treliving during the 2016 World Championships and got his start coaching in the Western Hockey League. It seems like it’s only a matter of time now.

As for the Hurricanes, they now have openings at GM and head coach. Team president Don Waddell is acting as interim GM during the search process. Rod Brind’Amour, who was one of Peters’ assistants, has seen his name out there as a potential replacement, same for the team’s assistant GM and AHL head coach Mike Vellucci. Both would come cheaper than what Alain Vigneault, Dave Tippett, Dan Bylsma or potentially Barry Trotz would command, so given Dundon’s methods so far, that just might be the direction they go.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bill Peters’ future with Hurricanes still an unanswered question

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The Carolina Hurricanes are already looking for a new general manager, but come Friday they could also be in need of a new head coach.

Per a clause in his contract, Bill Peters has three more days to activate his ‘out,’ freeing him of his deal which is for one more season at $1.6 million.

Peters has failed to guide the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and a finish better than sixth in the Metropolitan Division in each of his four seasons behind the bench. New owner Tom Dundon is promising further changes, which began with moving Ron Francis from the role of GM to president of hockey operations.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

According to the News and Observer, other NHL teams have called the Hurricanes for permission to speak to the head coach. One of those teams that may have given Don Waddell, the Hurricanes’ president and interim GM, a ring is Calgary, where head coach Glen Gulutzan’s future is also up in the air.

“I’m not too worried about where I stand. I’ve never been too worried about where I stand,” Gulutzan said last week after the team’s exit interviews.

The Flames have been linked with Peters for his ties to the area and Calgary GM Brad Treliving, who tabbed him to lead Canada’s entry at the 2016 World Championships. Peters will coach Canada again this spring, no matter how things develop over the next few weeks. Then there’s the newly-opened position with the Dallas Stars. Peters was an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings when Stars GM Jim Nill worked there.

So, connections, Peters has a few. The question now becomes does he want to continue working under Dundon or are potential opportunities in Calgary, Dallas or elsewhere more desirable than the situation in Carolina?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Dundon, Hurricanes suspend search for new GM: report

Sportsnet
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The Carolina Hurricanes’ search for a general manager is on hiatus.

Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported Saturday that the process of replacing former GM Ron Francis is being put on hold for the time being, citing that owner Tom Dundon needs more time.

“Tom hasn’t had the time he needs to do face to face interviews and feels that waiting will pay off,” Shannon wrote in a tweet.

Francis was removed from his post as GM on March 7 and “promoted” to a new role as president of hockey operations. There was only one catch: whoever replaced Francis would bypass the Hurricanes’ legend and report directly to Dundon.

The search, thus far, hasn’t been going that well, with three potential targets already withdrawing any interest they were thought to have had.

Part of that problem could be how hands-on Dundon appears to want to be. Part of it could just be timing. Fenton, for instance, could be on his way to a Stanley Cup ring this year in Nashville.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman touched on the situation in a recent 31 Thoughts column.

“I think what I’m looking for, is we have to be comfortable with each other. That’s the most important thing,” Dundon told Friedman when asked what he wants in a new GM. “I actually like to disagree and argue. I don’t want someone to come in and just do what I say, and I don’t want to make decisions. Someone to create a structure of how something is a good idea, and now we are going to get it done.”

You can add Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin to the list:

I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that Dundon wanting his hands all over the team — including whatever the GM is doing — isn’t the best selling point.

There’s some good, young talent on the Hurricanes for a new GM to come in and build around, but there’s also some dead weight, including what’s turned into a bad contract with goalie Scott Darling.

No GM wants to play puppet for an owner.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said the Hurricanes will suspend their search until the summer when a larger crop of candidates reveals itself.

Still, you have to wonder who’ll be willing to take that plunge. Someone will, of course, but people haven’t exactly been lining up to fill the role.

UPDATE: On Headlines on Saturday, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that the salary being offered to a prospective GM in Carolina is $400,000, to which he said he doesn’t see any GM taking as it’s too low. Friedman, meanwhile, believes the search for a new GM is not on a complete hiatus.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon content with hands-on approach

Raleigh News
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Tom Dundon was quite clear when he bought the Carolina Hurricanes.

“I’m not patient. It’s not going to work for me to be patient,” Dundon told reporters upon the announcement that he has acquired the team.

And while he also said he wasn’t just going to come in and expect to know more than then-general manager Ron Francis, his lack of patience got the better of him on Wednesday when he removed Francis from his post. 

Dundon ‘promoted’ Francis to the president of hockey operations, while saying that whatever new GM was hired would report directly to Dundon himself, bypassing Francis in his new role.

Dundon has his hands in all of the cookie jars at the moment, something he seems to be quite happy with.

“I think it’s appropriate right now that I challenge and question everything we do, so we can get a process that everyone buys into and we’re comfortable with,” Dundon told NHL.com’s Tom Gulliti on Thursday. “Once we do, I would be less likely to be involved with things that I think are working properly.”

On Thursday, Dundon entertained several calls from the media, including Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Friedman said that during his conversation with Dundon, it became apparent that while Dundon and Francis both agreed the team needed to improve, the route in which that improvement was to go was a matter of differing opinions.

“I want to use Ron’s experience and knowledge with a different style and structure,” Dundon told Friedman on Thursday. “He is a valuable resource. But our styles couldn’t be any different. It is no more complicated than that.”

Despite his very hands-on approach thus far for the Hurricanes, Dundon told Friedman that he wants doesn’t want to make the decisions from a GM standpoint.

“I think what I’m looking for, is we have to be comfortable with each other,” Dundon said. “That’s the most important thing. I actually like to disagree and argue. I don’t want someone to come in and just do what I say, and I don’t want to make decisions. Someone to create a structure of how something is a good idea, and now we are going to get it done.”

Friedman had a thought on one line in particular in that quote:

One thing stands out from that answer: “I don’t want to make decisions.” In the aftermath of Francis’s redistribution, the sense was 100 percent opposite, that Dundon did want final say.

Who Carolina’s new GM will be is up in the air, but Dundon told Gulitti that it likely won’t be an analytics-first guy.

“Because I don’t think that works,” Dundon said. “I think you need a hockey guy that can work with the analytics people to challenge their thoughts. ‘Hey, I think this. Can you show me something that proves or disproves or makes me or less comfortable with what I’ve done?’”

And what of head coach Bill Peters?

https://twitter.com/TomGulittiNHL/status/971877187824640000


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck