While the players were on one side of the arena meeting with the media, Bill Peters was on the other, awaiting his turn. They were in the same building Thursday, and yet still so far apart. For now.
The new coach of the Carolina Hurricanes has spoken to most of his players on the phone and met a few in person over the past 2 1/2 months. And that’s all so far: hellos and salutations. The real introduction, the real messages, will come in two weeks when the Hurricanes open training camp.
Until then, there’s a palpable sense of curiosity among the Hurricanes players, whose interactions with Peters have largely been happenstance so far, if that.
“Haven’t talked to him, haven’t met him,” Jiri Tlusty said.
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Peters was hired in June, after most of the team scattered across the continent, if not across the ocean, which makes the players’ uncertainty about the change both understandable and unavoidable. The new coach did reach out to most of the veteran players over the summer, although the conversations were friendly and brief.
“It was basically just, ‘How’s your summer?’ ” Justin Faulk said. “Nothing too crazy.”
That leaves the real introductions for training camp, although a few have met him since returning to town. Tim Gleason was giving his 2-year-old son a tour of the locker room when he ran into Peters. Patrick Dwyer ended up sitting in his office for 10 minutes upon his return to Raleigh in August.
Brett Bellemore and Ryan Murphy were running stairs at the arena earlier this week when they ran into Peters and introduced themselves.
“He’s excited to get things started, obviously,” Bellemore said. “That’s just kind of what we talked about.”
Others undertook some summer intelligence-gathering, getting a scouting report on the new coach from players who knew him as a Detroit Red Wings assistant coach or as a minor-league or junior-hockey head coach.
Chris Terry skates with a few Red Wings, including Dan Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk and Luke Glendening, outside of Detroit.
“I asked (Glendening) what he thought,” Terry said. “He had nothing but high praise for Bill. Obviously it’s a different role as an assistant there. Just kind of small talk, because it’s a different situation. I can’t really say those guys gave me a book on him, but it’s a clean slate for everyone.”
While skating in Ontario, Jay Harrison picked the brain of Carlo Colaiacovo, who played for Peters in the minors. And former Hurricanes forward Drayson Bowman, who played junior hockey for Peters, visited Dwyer in Wisconsin over the summer.
“He talked to me a little bit about Bill,” Dwyer said. “He said you’ll always know where you stand.”
If there is a book on Peters, that fits it: Intense, organized, driven. The media got a glimpse of that Thursday as the coach gave a video tutorial of some of the Hurricanes’ systems. The players will get that, exponentially multiplied in intensity and complexity, in training camp.
It’s a fresh start for everyone in that respect, in terms of both systems and the day-to-day minutia of how Peters will want to run the team, which is unfailingly different in any coaching change. They’ll start from zero, just as he’ll start from zero with them – although it’s clear Peters watched hours of video before and after taking the job to appraise the raw material at hand.
“That’s a reality no matter how many years you’ve played in the league,” Harrison said. “You still have to make an impression. It’s nothing new.”
They’ll get to know the new coach as he gets to know them, when the time comes. And that time is coming soon.