3.25.24 Playoffs

RALEIGH, NC. - When Tom Dundon became the majority owner of the Carolina Hurricanes on January 11, 2018, the organization hadn't seen the Stanley Cup Playoffs in eight years.

From the start of the 2009-10 season until the day of the change, the team had posted a pedestrian record of 284-279-102, ranking 25th among all NHL teams in points.

After finishing out that season of transition and seeing the playoff drought extended to nine years, it was time to make moves.

Enter Don Waddell and Rod Brind'Amour.

Under four months into his tenure as the majority owner, Dundon promoted Waddell from Acting General Manager to its full-time General Manager and hired one of the greatest players in franchise history, Brind'Amour, as a first-time head coach.

Six years later, the new trio of leadership has guided the team to a sixth consecutive trip to the postseason.

"When we all took over, one thing we talked about is trying to be consistent and not be a one-and-done team," Waddell said. "When we started building out the roster and looking at free agents and draft picks, we wanted to make sure that we balanced ourselves with younger and older players, so that way we could get in a situation where we could make a run and not a short run."

Since the trio of Brind'Amour, Dundon, and Waddell have been in their positions, the Canes have produced a points percentage of .662, fourth among all NHL clubs.

“From where we started, you had to get better to compete. When you’re not as good, it’s not as hard to get better," Dundon said in an interview with Ovies & Giglio earlier this season. "Now we’re at a point where whatever we do, the probability of what we do is much smaller than the probability of getting worse."

3.26.24 Svech Draft

Tom Dundon, Andrei Svechnikov, and Don Waddell smile for a photo at the 2018 NHL Draft

There are moments that can be pinpointed over the years that aided in the plan for the group, including some good fortune and a handful of crafty transactions.

Moving up nine spots in the 2018 draft lottery, opening the opportunity to take Andrei Svechnikov, was a welcomed surprise.

Taking on Patrick Marleau's contract ultimately led to the selection of Seth Jarvis.

The offer sheet of Jesperi Kotkaniemi may have ruffled some feathers, but it obtained a good, young forward for the group.

Acquiring Brent Burns and Brady Skjei via trade were beneficial moves for the blue line.

Many more moves could be highlighted, all compounding to bring the team where it is today.

But bringing in those players is just one part of the process. Being willing to spend to keep them, or bring in others, is another.

"(When Tom took over) he came in and said we were going to have a fair fight, which meant he was going to pay the players," Brind'Amour shared when asked what he'd point to as reasons for the team's continued success. "Then all of a sudden, boom. That's the most critical thing."

Including Kotkaniemi and Svechnikov, the team also bucked up and inked Sebastian Aho to an eight-year contract extension this summer, locking up the would-have-been coveted center before he could get to the open market.

While the decision to extend the man they call "Fishy" was an easy one for the group, not all decisions over the years have come easy for the group.

Both Dundon and Waddell cite their ability to work together, with Brind'Amour, as a key pillar to the team's success.

“Our group is really good about talking about it, going through it, and getting a decision," Dundon continued.  "Mostly, because we have a head coach who doesn’t need to be right either. If you’re asking a hockey question, you can either ask me or him. I’m going to ask Rod. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to argue with him about it, but ultimately, he’s smarter than me."

"It takes a lot of input from a lot of people," Waddell said, alluding to the fact that many other people in the team's front office deserve credit as well. "At the end of the day, (we) have to make a decision about which direction we're going to go. With Rod leading the charge downstairs in the locker room, that's a huge bonus for us because if I know one thing, it's that whatever players we give him, he's going to get the most out of them."

The receipe for the team's success isn't limited to bringing in good players and paying them.

Ask Brind'Amour and he'll point out that if the team didn't have the leadership group that they do in the locker room, led by Jordan Staal, Jordan Martinook, Jaccob Slavin, and Aho, the team wouldn't be in this position.

"(The leadership) was already established," the head coach said, suggesting that the team had some key pieces in place before he took over at the helm. "We just needed a little more boost and I think that they built on that. We've had so many good pieces here, we just kind of needed a little kicker and these guys have taken it to another level. They're certainly not satisfied with what we've accomplished (over the last five years), but that's what keeps us hungry."

Although the group remains hungry to achieve their ultimate goal, they're required to get through 82 games before they can even get a taste of what they want.

So, what's the secret to staying motivated from September's training camp through mid-April?

"It's not getting complacent. It's not thinking that it's just going to happen. It's an everyday process. It's boring. It's not what you want to hear. Players don't want to hear the same thing every day, but that's what it is," Brind'Amour said bluntly. "It's that consistent way of doing things and keeping the standard as high as possible. That's really it. Everyone tries to come up with all of these special things to describe what it takes, but it's really simple. You get good people that are willing do to things for others and you've got a chance."

With a playoff spot locked up, the Canes are now in pursuit of a fourth consecutive division title.

Whether they get it or they don't is almost a moot point.

Sure, it would be a nice feather in the metaphorical cap, but the end goal remains a second Stanley Cup for the City of Raleigh.

3.27.24 Roddy