Just over two years ago, Ron Francis
, the newly-minted Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, introduced Bill Peters as the team’s head coach.
“I’m confident we have the right guy to lead the Canes going forward,” Francis said in June 2014.
Francis and Peters were again at the podium in front of the media on Wednesday to announce that the 13th head coach in franchise history has signed a two-year contract extension that runs through the 2018-19 season.
“In the two years he’s been here, he’s done a tremendous job in coaching,” Francis said on Wednesday. “We want to get into the playoffs and have success here. We think he’ll be a big part of that moving forward.”
During Peters’ two-year tenure as the Hurricanes’ bench boss, the team has posted a record of 65-72-27. In the 2015-16 regular season, the Canes earned 86 points (35-31-16), the highest total since 2010-11 and a 15-point improvement over the season prior.
The last two seasons have laid the foundation for the success that Francis and his staff envisioned when Peters was hired. It’s a process, no doubt, and strides are visible.
“When the lines of communication are open and you have good dialogue with people above you, you have a chance. You’re on the same page, and that’s important in this day and age in sports,” Peters said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be a quick turnaround; it takes time. Fans don’t want to hear that and we don’t want to hear it either, but we’re realistic.”
“We talked at the initial press conference about changing the culture. That’s not easy to do, but we think we’ve taken steps in that direction to where our guys come to play hard each and every night,” Francis said. “Not only did we think Bill was a good coach from an X’s and O’s standpoint, but we thought he had the passion, desire and willingness to take on that challenge of helping us create the culture we wanted moving forward.”
Since making the hire, Francis has observed Peters grow as a head coach and be increasingly sought after for opportunities abroad in the World Championship and World Cup of Hockey.
“He’s got an unending thirst for knowledge,” Francis said. “He’s extremely hard-working, and he doesn’t take a day off.
“If anything, it’s me trying to pull him back a little bit here and there,” he added with a smile.
“You always learn and always try to evolve. You ask your players to go away in the offseason and come back better players. There are things they’re going to do, and there are things we can do as coaches, too,” Peters mused. “As you get a little older, you get more patient. That’s something I can get better at for sure. Communication and the art of communication with the millennials is important. Rest is a weapon. Those are three things as I look back.”
Simply put, Peters’ contract extension was an easy decision for all involved.
In his first NHL head coaching gig, Peters wants to see the progress he’s made with the Hurricanes come to fruition with the team’s first postseason berth since 2009.
“You always want to leave something better than you found it. We’re on way to doing that,” Peters said. “Professionally, it’s the right thing for me. I want to see this thing through. I want to get into the playoffs and go on a run.”
It helps, too, that Peters, along with his wife and two kids, enjoy what Raleigh and North Carolina have to offer. Next up on the summer to-do list: deep-sea fishing off the coast of Hatteras, North Carolina.
“The family loves it. If it was up to them, it would have been a longer deal if Ronnie had given us a longer deal,” Peters joked. “It’s a beautiful area, a little hot this time of year right now, if you noticed. Holy moly.”
For Francis and the Hurricanes, locking down the bench boss that has steered the team in the right direction on the ice was a no-brainer. Stability, Francis said, is important. And just as he said two years ago, Francis remains confident he’s got the right guy in place behind the Hurricanes’ bench.
“I think if you’re constantly changing over guys, in a lot of ways you go back to square one. It’s a different system and a different structure; the players have to sort of re-train themselves with what they’re doing,” he explained. “I don’t think there’s any reason why, if you have a good coach, he can’t be with the organization a long time. That’s what we feel we have in Bill.”
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email