It began in early March when Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon demoted general manager Ron Francis.
The Canes then missed the playoffs, having to deal with that disappointment, again.
Canes coach Bill Peters left, taking over as head coach of the Calgary Flames, and Francis later was fired.
Rumors continue to swirl about which Canes players may or may not be traded in the offseason.
All that can be unsettling for a player, but the naming of Rod Brind’Amour as the Hurricanes head coach on Tuesday appears should help quell any growing tension while providing a degree of normalcy.
“I think it will be a little smoother transition for a lot of the players,” center Jordan Staal said Tuesday. “They know Roddy and know what he’s like and what he brings to the table.
“I think everyone is excited about it. Obviously a new voice always changes things up. A new style, a different look on things. I know that every player respects Roddy like no other, and what’s he’s done and just the way he is and the way he carries himself. He’s someone you want to follow.”
Brind’Amour, 47, has no head-coaching experience. The former Canes captain, the first to lift the Stanley Cup in 2006, was coaxed into coaching by former general manager Jim Rutherford, easing into the position after retiring as a player and then going full bore.
As an assistant coach, under Kirk Muller and then Peters, Brind’Amour offered his opinions succinctly and could be blunt. He did all the little things required of an assistant and handled himself professionally behind the bench during games.
“I think he’s learned a lot over the years,” Staal said. “To be around him so much, I think I’ve seen it first-hand. I think he learned a lot from Bill (Peters) and from Kirk, as well. Obviously he knows how to motivate guys and handled the ebbs and flows of a young group.
“His next step was head coach. It’s nice to see him get the opportunity.”
It’s big step. The shelf life of a head coach, especially in the NHL, can be short if the results aren’t there.
“I’ve been through enough to know how it can end,” Brind’Amour said in a recent interview. “It rarely ends the way you want it to end on the coaching side. But you know that going in.”
Is Brind’Amour ready for it?
"You never really know,” Canes forward Justin Williams said Tuesday. “I don't know if he's ready. He doesn't know, either. You never really know until you're in there and you're a coach and it's on you.”
Williams and Brind’Amour were teammates on Carolina’s 2006 Stanley Cup champions. Signing as a free agent with Carolina last year — after winning two Cups with the Los Angeles Kings and then spending two seasons with the Washington Capitals — Williams returned to the Canes with the reassurance Brind’Amour was an assistant coach and handled the forwards.
“I just had Roddy for the one year, last year, as a coach,” Williams said. “What I guess surprised me a little bit was how he was so willing to embrace the way the game is played now.
“He's certainly got, already, the respect of the room. As a former player with the resume he has, that's instant. Guys will really take a shine to him, certainly embrace what he has to say.”
Staal, a team co-captain, said he was somewhat surprised to see Peters opt out of the final year of his contract and leave for Calgary.
“I enjoyed playing for him, he’s a hard-working guy,” Staal said of Peters, his coach the past four seasons.
And, Staal said, it will be strange not having Francis, a Hurricanes legend and a Hockey Hall of Famer, around the team and organization.
“It will be different and it’s tough to see him go,” Staal said. “But when things don’t go right, changes happen, whether it’s player personnel or management. That’s the game of hockey.”
A head coach deals with more than D-zone breakouts or creating net-front presence on the power play. There’s the new team owner, Tom Dundon, who has brought about all the changes. There are media demands — at times, facing the questioners after very tough losses, when things don't go right.
“That’s all par for the course and goes with the territory,” Brind’Amour said.