Every year, the Carolina Hurricanes communications department holds a “Media Day” event which allows the media to meet with members of the team for the first official time of the coming season.
The mood is always upbeat as everyone is looking forward to a fresh start along with the possibilities of a new season, but on Tuesday the atmosphere at this event was much more positive than in recent years. The word “playoffs” was even mentioned a few times as a realistic expectation and not as just a lofty pipe dream which might occur if everything went perfectly during the year.
When asked about these expectations, General Manager Ron Francis said that this roster can make the playoffs.
“Well I think that every year you go into it thinking you’ll make the playoffs. I think that when you look at our roster on paper, we can make the playoffs. I think we’re a team that’s talented and competitive and fast, but it’s still an 82 game season and there’s a lot things that can go on in a 82 game season. But for me at least, this is the first time we are also deeper in our organization. If we have some bumps along the way, we have some bodies that can come up and help. It’s more exciting for sure than last year and I’m really anxious to get it all rolling.”
Bill Peters had mentioned after last season that he hoped Francis did not use all of his draft picks on the actual draft indicating that he wanted and needed some veteran help. When asked about the moves made this offseason, the coach seemed very pleased with the newcomers joining the Canes.
“The bar is higher than it’s ever been during my tenure here in Carolina. It’s exciting! Our management has made some very good moves to make us a better team.”
Peters was asked specifically about the addition of Justin Williams and what he would bring to the team.
“I talked to Trotzie (Barry Trotz) right after it was official and we signed him. He said they would not only miss him as a player, they would miss him as a person. Everyone that’s been around him knows the quality of person he is. Our room is strong, we have a very good leadership group and our room just got stronger. I look forward to him being on our team.”
The coach also said that the team would have a Captain this season. When pressed for more details though, Peters would not say anything more.
Williams also attended the event and he reiterated what he said earlier, that he feels this team, as he put it in July, “is done losing”.
“Carolina is ready to make that next step. I’m not backing off any of my comments I made earlier, this is a playoff team and we expect to be there.”
Newly signed goalie Scott Darling also was present and he participated in several interview sessions. Bottom line, he seems genuinely thrilled to be in Raleigh.
Darling was asked how the success that he and some of his Chicago teammates had, (now on the Canes) can help their new team.
“For us, I guess we have grown accustomed to winning. That’s what we want to do and nothing else is going to be acceptable. Hopefully, it’s contagious. Also, bringing in guys who have done it and won, like Justin Williams…. I don’t know. We don’t like losing in Chicago, so we will definitely try to lead by example and get that winning mentality here.”
Other players also participated, including Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, Elias Lindholm, Victor Rask, Jaccob Slavin, and Sebastian Aho. Each of them seemed pumped up and ready to start the grind of another season. Each of them realized that expectations were higher for the team.
Slavin called those expectations an “opportunity”. Skinner said that he heard the buzz about the Canes up in Toronto. After winning gold in the World Championships with Team Sweden over the Summer, Lindholm and Rask are ready to carry on that success here in Raleigh.
You can see each of the team interviews at the following link.