Rod Brind’Amour turned a team around.
When former team captain, Stanley cup champ and NHL legend Rod Brind’Amour was named last year as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, he had one mission for the upcoming season: to take the team to the playoffs. And, while we can’t tell you whether the Canes are bringing home another Stanley cup—as of press time, the team is locked in a mighty playoff battle with defending champions, the Washington Capitals—we can, for Roddy Brind’Amour, happily say “mission accomplished.” The outlook wasn’t always so rosy. As in all sports, brilliant hockey players don’t always make the best head coaches and Brind’Amour, who spent the last seven seasons as the team’s assistant coach, had his share of doubters. A disastrous, humiliating 2017-2018 season was still fresh in mind when Brind’Amour was hired to succeed Bill Peters, and naysayers made the argument that Brind’Amour was at least partially to blame for that. There was always the risk that the marquee defensive forward could flame out spectacularly, putting Canes management in the uncomfortable position of having to fire another beloved franchise figurehead, à la former player-turned-general-manager Ron Francis. For Canes fans, who before this year hadn’t seen their team make it to the playoffs in nearly a decade, it’s hard to think of any scenario more demoralizing than that. But Brind’Amour, widely praised for his work ethic, leadership attributes and strength of character, rose to the challenge. He presciently named Stanley cup veteran Justin Williams the team’s captain and promptly began racking up the wins. The team’s state of play against the Capitals has modulated from electric to anemic but PNC Arena has seen record-setting attendance numbers and Canes fans have reason to feel good about their team. To borrow a turn of phrase, Brind’Amour has made Hurricanes hockey great again. Stanley cup or no, we think his seat is safe.