At Prospects Development Camp in late June 2018, just over a month into Rod Brind'Amour's tenure as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, he was asked about expectations for the team.
"Playoffs!" someone yelled from the crowd, which hadn't seen the Canes compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in nearly a decade.
"Not playoffs," Brind'Amour responded. "We're trying to be the best team in the league. That's our goal."
Fast forward two-and-a-half years. The Canes have qualified for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2001-02. Now entering into the 56-game 2020-21 season, they have an opportunity to make a third consecutive postseason appearance for the first time since the franchise was based in Hartford.
While that might be a goal, it's not the goal. The expectation is to be the best, a message Brind'Amour reiterated to his players, who were masked and physically distanced from one another in PNC Arena's Arena Club on Sunday afternoon.
On a day that is largely procedural - physicals, COVID-19 testing and headshots (in a safe environment) all happened on Sunday morning - the team meeting serves as a tone setter for the grind ahead. This year is, of course, a bit different. A smaller group of 38 players is in town, and there are just eight days of on-ice work in camp.
TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE & ROSTER
The constant, though, is the expectation level.
The bar, Brind'Amour said, was raised in 2018. It's now up to the Canes to meet and exceed those expectations, fighting for the inches that, each and every day, will set the team apart in a competitive league.
It's the challenge to become a C5 Hurricane - a Category 5 Hurricane, the strongest and fiercest of them all.
That's the expectation. That's the goal. That's the championship culture.
"It starts tomorrow," Brind'Amour closed the meeting.
And with that, a new season has begun.