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Thread: Hockey is Fun Again

  1. #1
    All-Star SlapShots's Avatar
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    Default Hockey is Fun Again

    Can't get over where we are from where we started. I keep reflecting on where we started and where we are this morning!

    No one on this board predicted the Hurricanes would be a playoff team this season. No one! (I stand corrected-- see comments below!)
    https://www.forumice.com/showthread....2018-19-Season

    Yet here we are. We have just defeated the defending Stanley Cup champions in the third longest game 7 in NHL history. In less than 48 hours, the Carolina Hurricanes will be taking on their division rival, New York Islanders.

    I just can't keep reflecting on the anxieties and frustrations entering the season. Ron Francis had been relieved of his duties. Bill Peters exercised his option to leave his coaching job. Steve Smith ask to let out of his contract to go to Buffalo. The coach and GM search were looking like epic failures. Legitimate GM candidates were steering clear of the organization and Dundon's ideas. Radio talking heads, near and far, were treating the GM search as fodder. Don Waddel was named GM much to the angst and chagrin of many. The coaching hire was a fan favorite, but the inexperienced Rod Brind'Amour was not what many wanted. We even watched as HoF radio voice Chuck Kaiton left his gig with the team. It looked like a sinking ship and things were going to be worse than better.

    Then, more things started happening. Justin Williams was named as Captain-- a guy in the mold of his coach with a track record to prove it. We also traded away pieces-- Lindholm, Hanafin, and Skinner. We brought in Martinook, Ferland and Hamilton. Then the Canes dipped their toe in free agency and picked up Calvin deHaan. What a stealth pick up! The Hurricanes also had a great piece of luck when the balls bounced our way-- getting the 2nd overall pick in the NHL entry level draft. Welcome Andrei Svechnikov!

    Goaltending was the big question mark. I certainly wasn't thrilled entering the season with Mrazek and Darling. We also entered the season with an underwhelming center corps in Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal, Martin Necas and Victor Rask as our centers. Not the depth that anyone wants down the middle. We also were starting rookies-- Necas, Wallmark, Foegele, and Svechnikov. Talented, but not threatening in the landscape of the NHL. we still were weak and in need of a #1 center and a scoring winger. We then had a rotating center position when Rask sliced open his hand, relying on Bishop and Roy until the coaches settled on McKegg.

    Waddell then made another move that proved to be highway robbery-- Niederreitter for Rask! A guy with hands and size and speed for the frequently missing and invisible, Victor Rask.

    The other big mid-season (correction-- we picked up McIlhenney in early October) move was the acquisition of McIlhenny on waivers. Goaltending was finally solidified and the Darling experiment was finally put to rest. Thank you, Toronto!

    The team also did everything to engage the fans. What started off as a skul clap ended up being The Surge. We were exciting. It was fun. We were a Bunch of Jerks.

    I truly thought we'd be out in Round 1. We are a character team. We have a coach guys are willing to go through wall for. We have talent. We are in the playoffs. There's something special here.
    Last edited by SlapShots; 04-25-2019 at 02:50 PM.

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    Super-Star HeyKurtz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hockey is Fun Again

    Quote Originally Posted by SlapShots View Post
    No one on this board predicted the Hurricanes would be a playoff team this season. No one!
    https://www.forumice.com/showthread....2018-19-Season
    No one? You must be reading a different thread than the one you linked; three of the four people (hardly a large, projectible sample!) who shared predictions in it picked the Canes as a playoff team.

    Has this team exceeded my expectations, yes, but I did think they were a bubble team at the very least.

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    Hall of Famer LJG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hockey is Fun Again

    We got Mac in preseason I believe. Recall our 3 goalie dilemma
    Keep Music Evil

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    Hall of Famer CanadaCanes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeyKurtz View Post
    No one? You must be reading a different thread than the one you linked; three of the four people (hardly a large, projectible sample!) who shared predictions in it picked the Canes as a playoff team.

    Has this team exceeded my expectations, yes, but I did think they were a bubble team at the very least.
    Thanks for pointing that out Warren! At least I had the Canes in the big dance despite my epic wrong on the Leafs...

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    Default Re: Hockey is Fun Again

    Nice recap SlapShots. What a ride this season has been since they "figured it out" in January. Despite what happen to the Ning, I still think we were better suited to playing the Caps in the first round. Are we still playing with house money against the Islanders? Jerks!!!
    Shape Up or Ship Out

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    Mod Squad jeffbear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hockey is Fun Again

    For the record, Carolina picked up McIlhenney on waivers on October 1st. He was the last cut coming out of camp for the Leafs. As Darling was hurt at the time and Neds is just a kid, Carolina needed another option in net. And yes, that was a big deal as it turned out. He had been solid enough backing up in Columbus and Toronto for the previous three seasons, but I don't think anybody could have predicted that he would give Carolina 30 games of above average service. I mean, the guy hadn't played over 20 games in years. Likewise Mrazek came through for them despite being cast aside not once but twice last year ... especially in the second half of the season once he got his confidence built up. Dumping Darling and Ward for those two was right up there with the theft of Nino from the Wild as Waddell's top impact moves. Svech was a gift from the hockey gods, and as much as the hockey world (and most of us) downplayed the importance of shedding guys like Hanifin, Lindholm and Skinner who weren't going to buy in 100% to the new team dynamic, that was a big deal too. This team didn't really struggle with passengers and had good chemistry right from the start of camp. That was huge, especially for a first time coach finding a way to make his message sink in.

    And as the unofficial spokesman for the pessimists club, I'll go to my grave saying that the questions back in October absolutely outweighed the answers. Even with all they've accomplished, the talent level on this club STILL isn't all that great by any traditional measurement. I think this playoff series with the Isles is a shining example that good coaching, a solid team work ethic and belief in your systems can do in this league. Neither team is really star driven in the modern NHL way, yet both of them are VERY difficult to play against pretty much every night and they both maximize their opportunities ... albeit in completely different ways. I often say that there are a million ways to skin a cat, and the most important thing is that the cat gets skinned. These guys skinned the cat, for sure.

    But at the end of the day, I think SlapShots is right. What we'll remember most about this team is the fun. After a decade of frustration, which included 6 solid years of existential gloom, a heaping dose of fun was exactly what the doctor ordered. Even if they had ended up just missing out on the playoffs again, we'd still have looked back on this year fondly. That absolutely hasn't been the case since at least 2011, and that's a LONG time to be walking away from a major investment of time and money with not a single thing to show for it. For me, it's not so much about the specifics as the general attitude. The games were fun to watch, the guys had a good time with each other, the fans enjoyed going to the arena ... it was a complete turnaround in general attitude. THAT will always be my takeaway from this season ... barring the Canes screwing around and hanging a banner or something.

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    Legend cmaleski2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hockey is Fun Again

    No one on this board predicted the Hurricanes would be a playoff team this season. No one!
    https://www.forumice.com/showthread....2018-19-Season
    I did. . I missed Columbus, NYI and Colorado. And my Cup winner is done already (Nashville).
    Last edited by cmaleski2; 04-25-2019 at 02:13 PM.

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    Super-Star Elsker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hockey is Fun Again

    Got to give credit to Dundon's vision that the culture needed to change here and that the fan experience needed to be improved.

    Turning loose of single-digit-overall draft-pick assets for questionable return was painful at the time, but necessary if viewed as impediments to getting with the program.

    Culture change has indeed occurred. I had long wished for a team that had such a culture attached to it.

    Hard thing to change/install. But they have done so. And (as always) it's a top-down phenomena.

    When you see something that's prevalent throughout an organization you are usually going to see it personified at the top.

    No different here. This team is Rod Brind'Amour. And it's fun.
    Here we are now...entertain us.

  9. #9
    Super-Star ThinIce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hockey is Fun Again

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffbear View Post
    But at the end of the day, I think SlapShots is right. What we'll remember most about this team is the fun. After a decade of frustration, which included 6 solid years of existential gloom, a heaping dose of fun was exactly what the doctor ordered. Even if they had ended up just missing out on the playoffs again, we'd still have looked back on this year fondly. For me, it's not so much about the specifics as the general attitude. The games were fun to watch, the guys had a good time with each other, the fans enjoyed going to the arena ... it was a complete turnaround in general attitude. THAT will always be my takeaway from this season ... barring the Canes screwing around and hanging a banner or something.
    This. Aside from the fact that I walked out of the PNC arena with a LOT more wins than losses, the intensity of play, the commitment from the players and the surge celebrations all helped to bind me to this team in a way that hadn't happened in years.

  10. #10
    Hall of Famer CanadaCanes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elsker View Post
    Got to give credit to Dundon's vision that the culture needed to change here and that the fan experience needed to be improved.

    Turning loose of single-digit-overall draft-pick assets for questionable return was painful at the time, but necessary if viewed as impediments to getting with the program.

    Culture change has indeed occurred. I had long wished for a team that had such a culture attached to it.

    Hard thing to change/install. But they have done so. And (as always) it's a top-down phenomena.

    When you see something that's prevalent throughout an organization you are usually going to see it personified at the top.

    No different here. This team is Rod Brind'Amour. And it's fun.
    Well said!!! We talked for years in here about a culture change, it was badly needed and it took a pretty big cleansing to finally change the course of this team. It all starts with Roddy and Williams leading the group by example, that has been front and center all year and it's nice to see every player willing to buy in to what those two have been selling!

  11. #11
    3rd Liner NoMich's Avatar
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    Let's play a game of IF:

    IF Skinner had not been traded, do you think his game would have changed in any way under the tutelage of Coach Brind'Amour?

    My feeling is "probably not." I think Brindy probably thought the same thing and decided that he couldn't have that in his locker room, thus, off to Buffalo he goeth even for practically nothing in return. (If you respond with the dude's name as a pun, I will delete your comment)

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    I think Brindy's view was, never try to teach a pig to sing. You waste your time and annoy the pig.

    *apologies to Heinlein*
    Last edited by HNIM; 04-25-2019 at 04:26 PM.

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    Mod Squad jeffbear's Avatar
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    I think he probably would have TRIED, but some things are ingrained too deeply. I mean, Skinner had a really good season in Buffalo but even then ... towards the end of the year, the same old "meh ... whatever ... I'll just try to beat these 4 guys myself" Jeff Skinner habits came back. I think he'd have had a similar season here. Maybe with fewer opportunities, so fewer points, but a similar trajectory. And again, you guys know that there's no bigger Skinner homer than me. But even I know that Skinny has to be the right kind of part on the right kind of team. A team led primarily by Justin Williams and Sebastian Aho (and make no mistake, this one is) on the ice and a veritable flock of loosey goosey guys off the ice is simply not that team. You put Jeff Skinner on the current Maple Leafs team and tell him to score a million goals and he probably does. Horses for courses.

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    And so Adam Fox ... may not have fit Brindy's culture club either. No more Country Club on Edwards Mill Road.
    Shape Up or Ship Out

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    Quote Originally Posted by JFG View Post
    And so Adam Fox ... may not have fit Brindy's culture club either. No more Country Club on Edwards Mill Road.
    When the 48 year old coach passes the preseason fitness test, there are 2 possibilities. 1) the test was too easy or 2) anyone not willing to work as hard as the coach wasn’t going to play for him very long.

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    1st Liner Pucking Lamplighter's Avatar
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    When Dougie Hamilton came here, word was that he marched to the beat of his own drum & that drum was a tuba. Teams he had played on called him aloof and a different kind of guy who got quality minutes because he produced goals. From what I see, he fits nicely and has the freedom to be himself, not a square peg/ round hole kind of deal.

    I believe the entire team is having fun being the tough team to play against and enjoying the success. I loved how early on, Rod didn't hesitate to pull the goalie for an extra attacker. It seems to have worked out with more favorable results than negative results. He knows what works by his experience & what doesn't. The RBA dump and chase ain't exactly Chairman Mo hockey. Imagine having four working lines and respect player to player between them. Everybody on the ice is pulling the same direction together.

    Too bad the injuries have taken some players out. I'd love to see what this team can do with a full compliment of top players. I definitely respect the Next Man Up mind set, which only makes this team better.

    You can't forget the Cherkers play and how capable most call-ups have been prepared to play NHL hockey.

    There's a bright future here looking forward, which should make landing quality free agents easier. Carolina will be a destination team, not just a great place to play golf on off days with decent weather and low pressure press coverage.

    Jim
    There's a goat in the garden!

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    Default Re: Hockey is Fun Again

    A lot of great stuff in here.
    Adam Fox - Been down this road with JJ, don't want this guy, see Colorado, that is a guy you want.

    Only problem with losing Skinner was the return. But like OBJ if he is talented and not a locker room guy, then got to go and I trust RBA on that and hoping he had input.

    On to Mac and Mraz. They played lights out but I think D did too. If you watched the Flames, that system does not lead to good D, period. Same there as was here. RBA system helped on D which helped goal and goal in the was upgraded too this year. Mac great, Petr is a Siv but a conn symthe siv. I hope. There is no real road block to winning it all. I hope SJ and Boston lose but they are not unbeatable. Just bad match ups.

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    Also, I just watched 2006 Buf and Edm highlights. A lot more play around the goal, Commie and Frankie came up big as lesser players but damn the forward talent. Centers, RBA, Weight, Cullen, Staal if needed
    Craig and Kevyn, great 4th line. Then only, Ladd, Williams, Whit, Stiller, Recci, Cole 6 and 7. Great players.

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    Stillman, Whitney and Cullen were great team guys. I don't think you can get players that talented that cheap anymore but Martinhook is in that class almost.

  20. #20
    Mod Squad jeffbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pucking Lamplighter View Post
    When Dougie Hamilton came here, word was that he marched to the beat of his own drum & that drum was a tuba. Teams he had played on called him aloof and a different kind of guy who got quality minutes because he produced goals. From what I see, he fits nicely and has the freedom to be himself, not a square peg/ round hole kind of deal.

    Jim
    Sara Civian makes a really good point about Dougie. 90% of those "aloof" comments come from media mooks who only know the guy from press availability and open practices. In other words, they know nothing. So when some media flack leaks some nonsense or they just get a weird vibe about a guy who's wired a little differently ... and Dougie IS that ... then off we go. Nobody's Dougie's ever actually played with has ever said anything actually negative about the dude. Here's the thing though ... some teams have very tight, businesslike cultures. Boston is absolutely that kind of club, and Calgary has "it's a serious game" disease as well, from what I can tell. I think Dougie probably would have struggled to fit in here under Peters as well, but with Brindy and Williams running a much looser, player friendlier regime Dougie has been free to find his own way. The young guys love him ... you'd have to be blind not to see that. Bottom line ... the guy is fine and most of the people who cover hockey in the press are idiots ... useful or otherwise. And I think we already knew the second part.

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