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Five Takeaways: Dundon's End-of-Season News Conference

Dundon makes clear that change is ahead

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Shortly after the players filtered in and out of the locker room on Monday, stepping in front of the gaggle of cameras and microphones to sift through the how and why of a ninth straight season without the playoffs, Carolina Hurricanes majority owner Tom Dundon sat behind a podium to do the same.

In addition to assessing the season, the near 30-minute discussion touched on a number of high-level items that have captured the attention of the league news cycle in recent months.

Here are five takeaways from Dundon's end-of-season news conference.

Peters is the Head Coach and Waddell is the Interim GM

… for now.

Head coach Bill Peters has one year remaining on his contract, though it has been reported that he also has an out clause he could exercise to explore other options.

"He does have an option to consider things, and I have options to consider things," Dundon said. "Today, he's the coach. He's a hard-working guy, and he does a great job."

In his four seasons with the Hurricanes, Peters has amassed a 137-138-53 record. On Monday evening, Hockey Canada named Peters head coach of Team Canada for the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark.

Ron Francis was named President of Hockey Operations on March 7, leaving the Hurricanes searching for a new general manager. The news to report on that ongoing search is that there is no new news to report.

"I've talked to a lot of people and I have a lot more information now, but I don't have clarity about what I think is the right long-term decision," Dundon said.

Dundon bristled at the suggestion that a rumored salary number is causing trepidation among potential GM candidates.

"The hockey business isn't more complicated than any other business. I've hired lots of people and figured out what to pay them," he said. "If there's somebody I want, I'll get them."

Until the team finds that person, Don Waddell, president of the club, is also serving as the interim GM.

Video: End-of-Season: Tom Dundon

No Silver Bullet

For the ninth season in a row, the Hurricanes failed to qualify for postseason play. For the ninth season in a row, the team attempted to answer how and why that was the case. Dundon was formally introduced as the team's new majority owner on Jan. 12 and saw the Hurricanes unable to take that next step over the final 39 games of the season.

"I think it's fairly obvious that on the hockey side we're not good enough," Dundon said. "We didn't make the playoffs, and the record tells you who you are."

The Hurricanes finished sixth in the Metropolitan Division with a 36-35-11 record and 83 points, a four-point decline from a season ago and a three-point slide from two seasons ago - and the talent level on this season's team was greater than that on either of those teams.

"There's something missing in terms of our engagement. I've met with most of the players in the last couple of days, and they agree," Dundon said. "They know there's something missing. Everybody that loses is missing something."

So, what needs to change?

"I wish I could give an answer that it's the goalie or the coach or toughness or goal scoring, but it's like everything - there's no silver bullet here," Dundon said. "I don't believe we need any one particular thing. We just have to be better everywhere."

Be Better

This offseason is going to be defined by change, change made in an effort to improve both on and off the ice.

"I think it needs a major shake-up," Dundon said. "I don't want anyone to feel comfortable. Everyone has to do it different if they want to be a part of the way I want to do things."

In meeting with the players during exit interviews, Dundon made clear his expectations.

"I don't think any of them were good enough and we had that conversation, and I don't think any of them thought they were. There was nobody there that was happy," he said. "I think they all were accountable."

It's likely, too, that the roster won't be the same in the 2018-19 season.

"It's feasible that there's a lot of turnover," Dundon said. "I'm open to every option. Anything that can make us better that we believe will make us better, we'd be willing to talk about."

Aho is Untouchable

Dundon was blunt in explaining his player evaluation philosophy: "There's none of them I'm not trying to replace. I want a better player than every one of them. That's our job."

Roster spots are up for grabs, then.

"We need it to be hard to be on this team," Dundon said. "We may have 19 new players next year or we may have zero. It's unlikely it will be either of those things, but I think every spot is open."

There is one roster lock for next season: Sebastian Aho. In his sophomore year, Aho paced the team in points (65) and goals (29).

"We're not finding better players than Sebastian Aho. We're just not," Dundon said. "We're not finding harder workers or more committed hockey players. But if I could find 12 of them, I'd do it. But we can't."

The Times They are A-Changin'

Bob Dylan once wrote, "The times they are a-changin'," and though Ron Burgundy had never heard that song, the same isn't true under Dundon.

Whatever happens in the offseason, it's clear that come training camp in September, things will be different. What is different and how different it is will be decided over the next five months, but the times they are a-changin', indeed.

"Everything needs to be reevaluated. Clearly it was wrong because we lost," Dundon said. "Everything we did was wrong. We can't be comfortable with anything we did."

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