6.18.24 Tulsky

RALEIGH, NC. - The Carolina Hurricanes are in the early stages of what some consider one of the most important summers in team history.

With 18 pending free agents, re-signing or losing even a few of them could drastically alter the team's makeup.  For an organization that's made the playoffs in six consecutive seasons and believes that they are in their window of being able to win a Stanley Cup, there's some understandable anxiety that comes along with the reality of the situation.

What if the team isn't able to lock up Jake Guentzel?  What if Brady Skjei gets more money on the open market?  Who fills their voids if both get deals elsewhere?  What will happen with Martin Necas?

Some of those questions will have an answer in 13 days, and now a new man will officially lead the charge in answering them.

Welcome to being the chief decision-maker, Eric Tulsky.

Named the 10th general manager in team history on Tuesday, the scientist-turned-hockey executive maintained his usual calm and under-control demeanor as he sat at his desk at PNC Arena.

His task at hand is not an easy one, but neither is holding 27 U.S. patents.

“It’s an honor [that] the organization has entrusted me with stewardship over our operation," Tulsky shared regarding his newly appointed position.  "That faith in me, that trust in me to keep things together, to have everyone feel valued and able to contribute, and put in a position to be successful, is really important to me.”

Earning the trust of the franchise over the last 10 years after he made the transition from his position at QuantumScape, an American company that develops solid-state lithium metal batteries for electric cars, the Harvard graduate admits that comparing where he's been and what he's done to what was announced today is difficult to wrap his head around.

Growing up in Philadelphia and going on to write for several blogs and websites, all parts of his background played a role, small or large, in landing a role with the Canes in 2014.

“It’s truly shocking that I started where I did and ended up where I am. It is," he smiled.  "I was lucky that I was able to pursue a passion and end up in a place that I really enjoy.”

Working upward from consultant (2014) to analyst (2015-17), to manager of analytics (2017-18), to vice president of hockey management and strategy (2018-2020), and then serving as an assistant general manager (2020-2024) before being named the team's interim general manager on May 24, Canes owner Tom Dundon said that Tulsky is "ready for the opportunity" in the team's press release this morning.

“I’ve grown a ton. I came in with some soft skills that came from other industries, but zero working knowledge of a hockey team," the new GM reflected.  "Over the 10 years, I’ve been really fortunate to have some great mentors and some coworkers who have helped me a lot and I’ve learned a lot about how a hockey team runs and what I need to do to help it be successful.”

Now the head man, how does Tulsky want this hockey team to run?  And how does that differ from Don Waddell's tenure at the position?

“I think our team is going to continue to run very similarly to how it has. I don’t think our organizational philosophy is changing," he answered.  "I will have some tweaks to some of our processes and some of the ways we go about executing on that vision, but I think our vision is staying pretty consistent.”

Preaching the value of input from Assistant General Manager Darren Yorke, who will continue in his current role, Rod Brind'Amour, and the rest of the hockey operations staff, Tulsky believes in having an environment in which everyone contributes, and more importantly, one where everyone has the information needed to provide a valuable contribution.

“There’s a lot of components to the job of general manager, but one of them is when it comes time to make a decision, making sure we have all of the information we can, all of the viewpoints we can, and synthesizing that and integrating it into a decision that the whole group is comfortable with.  One that everyone feels comfortable signing off on. That’s a big part of the role of a leader,” he shared of his outlook.

As referenced earlier, Tulsky's group will have no shortage of decisions to make in the next few weeks.

With his first signing already under his belt, a three-year, $3M AAV deal for Jalen Chatfield signed on Friday, next weekend's NHL Draft is also rapidly approaching.  Under 48 hours after the draft ends, July 1 will be a telling day for the direction of the organization.

“It’s a tricky summer. We have a lot of really great players reaching free agency and a lot of really great people reaching free agency. We have a lot of work to do to mold the team around that reality," Tulsky said of the situation.  "I think we’ve shown over the years that we can be creative and find solutions. It’s our job to keep things moving forward year after year, but it’s certainly a summer where we have a lot of work to do.”

The next order of business for Tulsky?  An introductory press conference, set for 10 a.m. on Wednesday at PNC Arena.