7.9.24 Abbott w_Bug

RALEIGH, NC. - Spend a minute talking to Cam Abbott and it'll be hard not to leave the conversation thinking, "There's some Rod Brind'Amour there."

From a physical standpoint, the Sarnia, Ontario-born product is well-kept, looking like he could rival or defeat any of the players in a fitness competition.

From a mental standpoint, he's kind, thoughtful, and almost effortlessly motivating with his words. You can tell there's some fire inside him too.

Like Brind'Amour when he was hired as the Carolina Hurricanes head coach in 2018, there's an element of newness too. He's serious about the opportunity ahead, yet also oozing joy talking about it.

After leading Rögle BK of the Swedish Hockey League for parts of seven seasons, Abbott was named Head Coach of the Chicago Wolves in June, set to lead the Canes' American Hockey League affiliate this fall.

"I'm exceptionally excited. It's a dream come true," Abbott said as he met with reporters on Monday, "I think that the Carolina Hurricanes have been a fantastic organization to follow from abroad and as a fan. As a big fan of Rod, the team, and how they play, now I get to learn from him and import the style of play to Chicago. I know how exciting it can be and I know how exciting it can be to work with young players, so I'm thrilled."

While some of the excitement stems from the thrill of victories, there's an understanding that you can't win games in July.

You can build connections that create a positive culture from the get-go though.

Several of the players on the ice at Invisalign Arena this week may very well be on Abbott's Wolves roster this fall and his process of trying to establish a level of comfortability with them is well underway.

"I think in some ways the X's and O's are overrated. It's all about the relationships and helping the younger guys, older guys - we're all new in a lot of ways coming into Chicago," the Cornell University-educated coach elaborated. "There's only been a few players who have played (in Chicago) recently, so it'll be a great experience for all of us to come into that situation together."

With a plethora of youth expected to be on the Wolves' roster this upcoming season, Abbott has a strong history of working with young talent and getting them toward the NHL.

"I get so much energy helping young players and helping guys find their best selves. In Chicago, that's going to be about learning the game and how it needs to be played as a Carolina Hurricanes prospect and as a Chicago Wolves player. That's what I'm there for, to serve the guys, serve the Chicago Wolves, and doing that to the best of my abilities."

Abbott's intentions are easy to understand when you recall that he too was once a young player trying to find his footing in the pro game in a foreign country.

Playing just one season split between the Central Hockey League and the ECHL (2006-07) before going on to play seven seasons in Norway and Sweden, he knows that getting the most out of his players involves ensuring they're taken care of off the ice as well.

"Some of these guys are pretty young, pretty reserved, and pretty quiet. A lot of European guys have that tendency, but a majority of them have been playing pro hockey. They're very capable young men who are very respectable and are very talented. I think the adjustment can be extreme for some and to recognize that and to see what they need help with [is my job.]," Abbott said. "(I need to) make sure there's a lot of support for them off the ice in all of the areas that come along with changing countries and getting away from your support network. There's a lot of newness that becomes challenging and I know that very well because I've done it myself. [I hope to] really dig into those relationships and hopefully right from the start I can be somebody they can look towards for guidance and help."

That mentality is part of what made Abbott stand out to Hurricanes brass during the interview process, as Assistant General Manager Darren Yorke pointed to today.

"I didn't have a relationship with Cam before this process, but when you start writing down all the different qualities you want out of a coach, the goal for the interview process is to see how he's able to hit those. It became clear very early that he was able to hit everything, so we're lucky that we were able to get Cam because I'm sure he had other options as well," Yorke said.

With the relationship between the new hire and the organization seemingly off to a good start, Yorke also knows that this is an important week for Abbott.

"[It's about] getting an understanding and building a relationship with Rod, the players, the staff to understand what we expect of the players, but at the same point, that's very natural to how he goes about coaching," Yorke continued. "There are a lot of similarities to Rod in Cam, not just how they take care of themselves but how they communicate, how they build relationships, and how they generally want to play hockey. How Cam played in Rögle is very similar to what we want with our players in Carolina and what we want in our players in Chicago."

Walking one day at a time, Abbott admits that he'd love to be an NHL head coach one day like Brind'Amour, but for now, he's all about conducting business in the Windy City.

"I'd love to coach in the NHL, but it's always my way of being that I'm not focused on being in any capacity other than what I'm excited about and what's right in front of me, and right now that's the Chicago Wolves," Abbott said. "It's a dream come true to coach in the AHL and to be a part of this organization here. I'll just focus on that and tomorrow will take care of itself."

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Cam Abbott looks on during Tuesday's skate at Invisalign Arena during Prospects Development Camp.