Saturday, April 09, 2011
After the 2006 season, I thought that good times were as far as the eye could see as it pertained to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes had just won the Stanley Cup and with the farm system not being as strong as it once was, but still in the top half of the league, I believed that the Canes would win the division a couple of times. Possibly be a perennial threat to be the Eastern Conference representative in the Stanley Cup final. Boy, how I was wrong.
Over the past 5 seasons, Carolina has only qualified once for the post-season. And even that was by the skin of their teeth. And after pulling out two game 7's in that 2009 run to the Eastern Confernece final, I still held the belief that the Canes could be a force in the East. After 2 years of missing the playoffs, we got back in and did some damage in 2009. Last year, we had injuries up the Wazoo and didn't finish strong. This year, there was no excuse. We had the least games lost due to injury in the NHL. The team has fallen and cannot get up. It is time to fix the team and compete with the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Southeast division crown. And I believe that I have the plan.
1. Fire (or move) the braintrust. Jim Rutherford has been the architect of this team for a long time now. And he also needs to take the blame for the disappointing results that the team has given it's fans. Time to promote him to President only. The General Manager title should be taken away from him and either given to Jason Karmanos and have his Vice-President title stripped from him or go outside the organization to find a person who's sole responsibility is to perform the General Manager duties for this team. Because right now, our farm system isn't looking too good and the parent club needs help.
2. Say Good-bye to Paul Maurice yet again. Mr. Rutherford went back to a coach that he was comfortable with when he fired Peter Laviolette. It was another wrong decision that has plagued the club for the past couple of years. Maurice proved in his first tenure as Canes coach and in Toronto that he doesn't have the skills to take teams farther than what there talent level is. The 2002 Stanley Cup run was a fluke. The history since that season proves it in regards to Maurice. I would look at a Head Coach that has experience, but if there is a coach in the minors that really impresses, maybe go that way. Either way, talk to Ken Hitchcock and see what he might bring to the club. It couldn't hurt.
3. Be active in Free Agency. A few good veteran free agent could be a big difference in the fortunes of this team. Take a look at this roster. Only 4 players are 30 years or older. Eric Cole, Cory Stillman, Bryan Allen, and Joe Corvo. Not exactly the veterans that you think of that will bring you Stanley Cups. A nice 3rd Line Center would do wonders. A Top 6 Defenseman would also help in the form of a veteran. I don't think that Justin Peters is the answer as the backup for Cam Ward. Maybe bring in a veteran that can help win games when Ward needs a night off.
4. Start investing in the farm. The NHL club is not where the young players need to develop their game. Charlotte has a couple of players that will crack the roster within the next few years, but there needs to be that steady pipeline of players ready to contribute fairly well to the NHL club and that hasn't happened over the past couple of years. We are going to have some front line help over the next couple of years from the farm and anything that the Goalies down there show, should be used as trade bait unless you get rid of Cam Ward, and I don't think that is happening.
5. Stop being a cheapskate as an owner and start worrying about making the team a powerhouse. This point is directed at owner, Peter Karmanos. The product can make you money, but you must take the risk of paying out more money to make it happen. I understand that you are looking for a minority owner in this club. And yes, I know that you don't play in the major markets of the NHL, but you have a rabid fan base down in Carolina and can make a profit down there while providing the fans with a winning product. I am tired of the self-imposed salary cap that doesn't allow for any mistakes on personnel decisions. That has contributed to our dismal finishes in the past couple of years. Mr. Karmanos must realize that he can't take his money with him and that his family is taken care of for the next couple of generations. Time to take the satisfaction in having a team that is a powerhouse and forget about saving a couple of million dollars more for the financial coffers.
The Carolina Hurricanes are one of those teams that have become a bottom feeder in the league. And that sentence is one of the hardest that I have wrote since I have started blogging. This franchise should be the model of the Southeast Division. But yet we are looking up at Tampa Bay and Washington. Florida and Atlanta should be an afterthought for us in the standings, but yet we have to worry about them. It is sad when the blasted Toronto Maple Leafs have more faith in the future than us Hurricane fans. There isn't a big jump needed right now to get the 'Canes back to playing playoff hockey and stunning those favorites of the league. But if they decide to ignore their problems, then a major overhaul of the organization will be needed a few years down the road.