Hurricanes Under Pressure to Win Now

With a new clean slate, the Carolina Hurricanes will begin their quest for the Stanley Cup. Winning is not easy, and with each team in the Eastern Conference getting better, the task became more challenging. This team is inching closer to winning, so the pressure is on meeting those expectations. The pressure is on for the Hurricanes, who are elite contenders in the league. It is important never to forget how far you’ve come to appreciate the good times. 

Building the New Foundation

It is always important to remember where you came from, so you can appreciate the good times even more. From 2009-2019, the Hurricanes were in the basement of the NHL and entered dark times as a franchise. The Alexander Semin contract was a nightmare, and how can anyone forget the Scott Darling experiment in goal? Franchise cornerstone player Eric Staal would be traded, and the only player to smile about was Jeff Skinner. With a new wave underway, laying a new foundation was in order. 

Eric Staal
Eric Staal with the Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Carolina legend and former captain Ron Francis helped lay the foundation that is in place today. During his tenure as the general manager, he drafted cornerstone pieces in Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas and locked in Jaccob Slavin to his long-term contract. This started something special, with these players leading the way. The dark days would still remain as the road ahead was laid out. 

The Road Ahead

Patience would become a virtue, and there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. It was a dark tunnel for an extended period of time for the Hurricanes. After suffering a sweep in the Eastern Conference Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the club underwent an immediate tough stretch. From 2010-2014, Carolina was the true definition of a .500 hockey team, with a record of 163-161-52. As a franchise, they had one 90-point season and three 80+ point seasons but ultimately fell short of the playoffs. However, the worst season came in the shortened 2012-13 season, in which the team managed 19 wins and 42 points. It was time to switch gears and to a new head coach. 

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Not only was there a new wave in place, as mentioned above, but a new boss behind the bench. Bill Peters became the new head coach for the franchise. However, the club would experience the same results. His first year behind the bench was poor, but the club improved overall. Carolina would finish with three straight 80+ point seasons and end with a winning record in each. However, as a team, they were good enough to be competitive but not good enough to make a change. Throughout his tenure, Peters finished with a record of 137-138-53. It was clear, this team was good but needed a spark to get them over the hump. This spark would allow them to cement their contention status. 

Cementing Their Contention Status

Rod Brind’Amour would be the next man in line to coach this team. Since his arrival, he has put the Hurricanes back on the hockey map. Brind’Amour is the perfect coach for this team, as his players work as hard as he did when he was the captain of this franchise. 

Rod Brind'Amour Carolina Hurricanes
Rod Brind’Amour, Head Coach of the Carolina Hurricanes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Hurricanes have done a complete 360 since Brind’Amour has been behind the bench. They have a record of 226-107-37 and have won their division three times. Furthermore, there is one thing that makes this tenure unique, and that is being a playoff contender and cementing their contention status. 

Since 2018-19, the Carolina Hurricanes have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Nothing will be as bittersweet as the first time, as the fans celebrated with joy and goaltender Petr Mrazek had his legendary postgame speech on the bench. 

Brind’Amour has reshaped this core and has gotten them to be a playoff contender. Not to mention, the 2022-23 season was their most dominant as a whole. The result has not been a championship, but this team is rising. Carolina has reached the Eastern Conference Final twice (2019, 2023) and got swept both times. Furthermore, the team has continuously advanced to the second round, where they have suffered painful exits. 

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General manager Don Waddell has gone through every summer improving this team and making it better than the last. However, most of their core group is on expiring contracts, so the pressure to win is now. 

The Pressure is on to Win Now

Not only are the players hungry for a championship, but so are the players. A parade around Raleigh, NC, would be electric, and the team can do so. However, despite their shortcomings in recent seasons, the pressure is on to win. Entering the 2023-24 season, they have the second-best odds to hoist the Stanley Cup.

The Metropolitan Division will be a gauntlet as every team in the division got better. In addition, the rest of the conference improved, as many teams will be fighting for playoff spots. The Hurricanes are in the top tier, but teams are right on their heels with little separation between them.

With most of their core uncertain beyond the 2023-24 season, the pressure is on to win. The Hurricanes have a team capable of winning, and with the players being brought in, all signs are aimed at hoisting the Stanley Cup. Some teams can derail their championship hopes, making the pressure that much harder. 

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