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Peters Brings Gold Back to Raleigh

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Following the conclusion of the 2015-16 regular season, Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters left Raleigh for first the Czech Republic and then Russia, and after a month abroad, he has returned with some new hardware.

Peters met with media in Raleigh on Wednesday for the first time since the IIHF World Championship, in which Peters and Team Canada captured the gold medal.

“If you’re going to go that far, you might as well bring something home,” Peters said with a smile, the gold medal dangling around his neck.

After capturing gold as an assistant coach with Team Canada the year prior, Peters was tabbed as the national team bench boss for this year’s tournament.

“Hockey Canada does a great job assembling the team, first and foremost, and then giving you the resources to be successful. We had a great experience over there. They put together a very good, young team,” Peters said. “It was a great group of guys to work with and a fantastic support staff and coaching staff. Anytime you can surround yourself with that caliber of people, you’re going to get better as a coach.”

After being blanked 4-0 by Finland in the final game of the preliminary round, Team Canada again drew the then-undefeated Finns in the gold medal match. Canada stifled Finland, holding them to just 16 shots and shutting them out, 2-0.

“They had a very good team. I thought our guys did a real good job of executing what we wanted to do. Our O-zone forecheck was very good, and I thought they had a hard time getting the puck out. We were very committed to managing the puck properly, and we played with a lot of speed through the neutral zone. I thought we attacked,” Peters said. “It was a very fun group to coach, a very hard-working team with a lot of skill, probably underrated skill. The young D just continued to get better and better, no different than what happened here last year in Carolina.”

Along with the gold medal, Peters is bringing back from Russia some fresh coaching ideas.

“I enjoyed my time with [the coaching staff], and there are definitely things we talked about and used in the tournament that we can use in the NHL season moving forward. Some real good ideas,” he said. “You’re there together for a long time, so it’s a good opportunity to sit and talk hockey and get some different opinions.”

Also returning with Peters are eye-level impressions of defenseman Noah Hanifin, who Canada faced in the semifinal, and forward Sebastian Aho.

“He was very poised and very confident,” Peters said of the 19-year-old Hanifin. “He played with a lot of pace. He took off with the puck a few times; if you remember when people chase him behind the net at the NHL level how that turns out, we had one of our guys make the same mistake chasing him behind the net, and it turned out the same way.”

Aho tallied five points (1g, 4a) in the seven-game preliminary round of the World Championship and scored two goals in Finland’s 3-1 win over the Russians in the semifinal, a game in which Peters said the 18-year-old winger was “outstanding.”

“I’d be shocked if he comes in and can’t make our hockey team from what I’ve seen of him,” Peters said. “I don’t think there’s pressure on him. We’ll bring him in, and if he makes our team – which we’d like to see happen – we’ll make sure we use him properly, surround him with good people and give him all the support he needs.”

Next up for Aho won’t be training camp with the Hurricanes – at least not initially – but rather the World Cup of Hockey with Team Finland. Peters will also be participating in the tournament as an assistant coach for Mike Babcock’s Team Canada staff.

“That World Cup experience for those players will be fantastic. The best on the best in the world going at it. Incredible,” Peters said. “I think it’s going to be a fantastic tournament. Anyone can win it if you look at caliber of all the rosters and goaltending.”

Odds and Ends

Aside from international play, Peters also discussed the Hurricanes and what lies ahead more immediately with the draft and free agency and in the not-so-distant future with the 2016-17 regular season.

On Ron Francis and potential trades at the draft: “Just watch him work the magic. … Whatever is going to make us better. I think Ronnie’s got a real good handle of what’s going on.”

On if he gets the impression Cam Ward wants to remain with the Hurricanes: “I get that impression, for sure. Why wouldn’t you want to stay here? It’s beautiful. He’s lived here a long time, he’s comfortable in this area, he likes playing [behind] those young D-men and he thinks the team is on the upswing. I believe he wants to be here, and if it makes the most sense for our organization, I’m sure that’s what we’ll do.”

On Ulf Samuelsson, the new head coach of the Charlotte Checkers: “I think it’s a fantastic hire. It adds to our organizational strength. I think the communication and the relationship that we’ll have between Ulf, myself and Ronnie will be fantastic. Obviously they have a relationship from their playing days and whatnot, and I think that hire makes our organization stronger. I’m all about that. I want to surround ourselves … with good people to make each other better and challenge each other to reach the ultimate goal.”

On needs heading into next season: “We need some forwards. We need to score. … We need to find a way to score on a more consistent basis and score throughout the lineup.”

On excitement for next season: “I’m excited about next year just due to the fact that we have a lot of things going in the right direction. We have a lot of (draft) picks coming up. … To me, everything is going in the right direction, and now it’s about surrounding guys with some quality acquisitions this summer and getting off to a good start.”

Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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