What are The Hurricanes Doing?
By Patrick Hoffman
It was just a few weeks ago that the Carolina Hurricanes were dreaming about making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Fast forward to now and it appears that a lot has changed. For starters, new team owner Tom Dundon recently announced that Ron Francis will no longer be the team's general manager and will instead be the president of hockey operations.
This is a very strange move. As the team's GM, Francis was doing the right things in terms of getting this franchise headed in the right direction.
The team is young, fast, and as of this writing (March 9, 2018), sit four points out of the second wildcard spot. That is certainly not a bad thing.
Francis probably made the wrong move in signing goaltender Scott Darling to a long-term contract. Darling has been awful this season as he is currently (As of March 9, 2018) 11-16-7 with a 3.06 goals against average and a .890 save percentage, certainly not numbers that are worthy of being a starting goaltender in this league.
With the exception of that deal, Francis has done more than a good enough job to keep this team competitive and in a hunt for a playoff spot. While the goal is always to make the playoffs and have success in them, this team is still young enough that you need to take the small victories where you can.
Speaking of Darling, it is puzzling that head coach Bill Peters continues to throw Darling out there when Cam Ward (19-11-4 with a 2.70 goals against average, a .907 save percentage, and 2 shutouts) has been the better goaltender this season. Sure, Darling won his last game (22 saves in a 3-2 victory over the struggling Chicago Blackhawks), but the team should not be force feeding Darling to the fans to make them think that he can be their number one masked man.
What is also odd is that it appears that the franchise did not give Francis enough time to make to truly make this team better. It was known that Dundon wanted to come in and shake things up, even though they were just four points out of a spot.
Yes, Francis was in his fourth year as the team's GM, but rebuilding a franchise based on one's vision takes time. Unfortunately for Francis, Dundon felt that Francis's time at the helm was done and that a change needed to be made.
It is clearly a very curious time in Carolina. The team is still in the hunt, but not playing their best hockey. The franchise is looking for a new Gm that will get them into the postseason, and the team's attendance is one of the worst in the league.
It will be interesting to see what happens to this franchise and what they do in order to put themselves in a more favorable position come next season and in the future.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.