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Hurricanes view Bill Peters as big part of future

Coach signs two-year contract extension through 2018-19 season

by Kurt Dusterberg / Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Coach Bill Peters has yet to lead the Carolina Hurricanes into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they are banking on his ability to get them there soon.

Peters, 51, signed a two-year contract extension Wednesday that takes him through the 2018-19 NHL season.

"I know we haven't made the playoffs, but Bill's goal is similar to ours," general manager Ron Francis said. "We think we're right there. We want to get in the playoffs and have success around here. We think he will be a big part of that moving forward."

The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs seven straight seasons, but there were positives last season, Peters' second in Carolina. They went 35-31-16, a 15-point improvement from 2014-15, and finished 10 points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. 

Video: Bill Peters' contract extended through 2018-19

"We knew it wasn't going to be a quick turnaround," Peters said. "Obviously it takes time. Fans don't want to hear it, we don't want to hear it. But we're realistic. We've accumulated lots of assets."

Francis said, "I would reach out to those fans that left us a couple years ago and [encourage them] to come back and take another peek. I think they would be pleasantly surprised in the progress we've made and the direction we're going in."

That direction includes a new look at forward. The Hurricanes acquired forwards Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks for two draft picks on June 15, and signed unrestricted free agents Lee Stempniak and Viktor Stalberg on July 1.

"Our goal is to win and be successful," Francis said. "If we can make our team better, then we have to make our team better. You can't be afraid of change.

"We talked at our end-of-season meeting about the need to find more goal-scoring. We felt in the tight games we came up a little bit short, whether it failed us 3-on-3 in overtime, the shootout, or the second power-play unit. We needed a little more skill in the lineup. We think we've done that."

Video: Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters on extension

Stempniak, who split last season between the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins, had 51 points in 82 games, one point shy of his NHL career high with the St. Louis Blues in 2006-07.

"He's going to come in here and score and give us veteran leadership," Peters said. "You look at the [other] guys we've added, and they can skate. Stalberg has world-class speed. Bickell has above-average NHL speed. Teravainen is a gifted skater. I just like the direction we're headed in, and we're headed in that direction for a long time."

Peters coached Canada to a gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Championship and will be an assistant for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. 

"In the two years he's been here, he's done a tremendous job coaching," Francis said. "I think that's getting noticed in other places as well, with the opportunities with Canada. He's got an unending thirst for knowledge. He doesn't take a day off. If anything, it's me trying to pull him back here and there."

Peters said the job security won't make him complacent. He said he's learning how to best get his plans across to one of the youngest teams in the NHL.

"The team is getting younger and I'm getting older," he said. "As you get older you become a little more patient. That's something I can get better at for sure. The art of communication is important with the millennials too."

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