Coinciding with internal meetings with the coaching staff and management, the Carolina Hurricanes cleaned out their lockers and met with the media at PNC Arena on Monday for the final time before the summer ahead.
After missing the playoffs for the sixth season in a row, the Canes attempted to answer questions about why the team found itself in that predicament again and what could be done to correct it moving forward. Reflection on personal performance and the new coaching staff were also big talking points as players worked their way in and out of media scrums.
CanesVision captured video from players in the room, and links to each can be found below. Embedded are some of the highlights from what was said to cap the 2014-15 season.
On why the Canes missed the playoffs: “The start we had wasn’t any good. You can’t go 0-for-8 to start a year. It’s difficult to climb back. A couple injuries early, which you never want to use as an excuse, but it is what it is. We struggled and weren’t able to get the ball rolling with the new coach and new system. Once we got healthy, we were better.”
On what needs to change moving forward: “I don’t think it’s a whole-sale thing, at all. There are things that we need to fix, for sure. But that’s Ron and Bill and management’s job to do. I’m a guy that’s supposed to go out there and perform the way they want me to.”
On if he’s forgotten what it feels like to be in the playoffs: “No question, it’s frustrating. Your career only lasts so long, and you want to be in the playoffs. You want to be playing at that level. There’s nothing better. … It’s been awhile, so it’s tough. It’s tough to sit there and watch it every year. I love that extra competitiveness because it just brings out the best in a lot of guys. It’s difficult to watch.”
On a message to the fans: “It’s about building back up to get those people back in the building and get our team back to the playoffs. I think with Ron and the management staff and Bill and his staff, they’ve got a direction they want to go and will get to. Hopefully over the summer we can do some things to strengthen our team. We’ve showed flashes throughout this season of a team that, when healthy and playing right, can be a playoff team. But overall, there are things that need to be fixed and get better. That’s evident by our record. So we’ll try to get better over the summer and come back hungry next season.”
On the play of the team down the stretch: “The way we finished this season made me feel good about where we’re at and where we’re headed. The way we played our system and learned the way we need to play for our coach and what he demands of us, you could tell that we’ve had a more consistent game. We’re in a lot more matches, and we’re right there. “
On his elevated role with the Canes vs. his role in Pittsburgh: “It’s been a learning process for myself. It’s been a good challenge, and I can always improve as a player. There have been a lot of demands of me here, and I’m going to keep trying to meet those demands. I feel pretty comfortable with my game, for the most part, this year. I have to keep getting better if this team is going to make the playoffs. I’ll have a strong summer and come back ready to go like I was this year. Hopefully I’ll have an injury-free season and go from there.”
On if this year feels like another wasted season: “No. It’s still fun to play in the NHL, and it’s still fun to be here. Everyone here was a professional. We worked hard and had fun together. We won and lost, but it’s still playing hockey. We still enjoy it.”
On if he likes the team’s core: “We need to be better. However that has to happen, whether that can come from within or outside, that’s a decision I don’t make. For us to happy with what we’re accomplishing out there, our record needs to be better. We need more wins. Period.”
On having yet to experience the playoffs in his career: “You’d rather be playing, certainly. At some point, things become outside of your control. If there’s anything I know, it’s that I’m not good enough to carry a team to the playoffs and I’m not bad enough to sink one. I’ve pretty much learned that over 14 years. When you see people raising the Cup in June, that’s something you’d definitely like to do or have the opportunity to do.”
On Peters’ system: “I think the system that Bill has us playing is good for the team and good for the guys. When we play consistently for 60 minutes, I think we have a good chance to win every night. But I think that’s a big thing too, making sure you can play for a full 60 minutes and then go from there. If you can’t show up and put in a game for 60, 65, whatever it might be – if you only show up for 40, it’s tough. The best teams in the league, I think, are the ones that play consistent every night and play a full game. That’s why they are where they are in the standings.”
On injuries: “Losing Jordo was not a good situation to be in, but I think every team has injuries and they have to go from there. We’re not the only one in the league that had some injuries that hurt the team. Look at Columbus. They had their whole team injured pretty much all year, all their top guys and then you look at what they just did at the end of the year – won 10 games in a row, or whatever it was, longest winning streak in the league this season. You see that, so I don’t like to use the injured excuse because everyone goes through it, everyone has injuries so it’s just the same thing. You’ve got to know when it’s time to go. We’ve got to play games that mean something.”
On what went wrong this season: “It’s frustrating. It’s sort of the same story. We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole early in the season, and it was a little bit too tough to get out of it.”
On if he is confident in the room: “I think it’s a good group of guys. It’s probably not going to be the same group of guys here next year – that’s just the business, and that’s just how it works. When you go through a season that doesn’t yield results, there are changes made. There are a lot of good, young players here, and you saw them improve as the season went on.”
On the team’s struggles: “It was a tough season for the team and me. … I hope we play better next season. … I don’t know what happened with me this year.”
On scoring six goals: “I know I scored six goals this season. It’s not great for me. I had surgery last summer, and maybe that’s the problem. The last half of the season, I felt great. I had more shots, and I felt better. I hope next season I feel right.”
On this season: “I went into the season, I wanted to show that for one I can put in a healthy season and also play at a high level. I think I accomplished that. It’s never easy coming to these exit interviews, trying to explain what went wrong this year to miss the playoffs, because that’s the most important thing. The thing I miss the most is winning, but for the most part I was pretty happy with my play this year.”
On the swirl of trade talk last summer: “It fueled me a lot. I’ve been very fortunate to now play 10 years here in this organization. I made it quite clear that my family and I consider this home. This is where I wanted to play. To be able to come back and get another opportunity was something that I was extremely grateful for. I wanted to prove that I can put forth a good, healthy season and play at a high level, too. I’m happy that that happened. What’s going to happen moving forward is again out of our own hands and into the management’s hands and, certainly, I hope to be coming back and be a part of the future.”
Full Player Interview Video
Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis and head coach Bill Peters will address the media at noon on Wednesday, April 15. CarolinaHurricanes.com and the team’s official mobile app will have a live stream of that news conference, plus additional coverage later in the afternoon.