Rod Brind’Amour isn’t publicly campaigning for the job and wants that to be known.
But, but …
Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon is looking to hire a new head coach after Bill Peters resigned Friday, opting out of the final year of his contract. Brind’Amour, an assistant coach under Peters and former Canes coach Kirk Muller, believes he’s ready to take the next step and be a head coach in the NHL.
“If you never try, you’ll never know,” Brind’Amour said Saturday. “The reason for saying ‘why not?’ is I’ve been doing it for eight years and I really believe I can help out one way or the other and see if I can put us over the hump.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
“I don’t think as an assistant I’m going to get any better or learn any more. So now’s the time. … They’re going to find the best guy to do it and if it’s me, that’s great, and if not, I understand. But I felt like I could at least step up and see if it could happen.”
Dundon, who became majority owner in January, likes Brind’Amour. He likes his work ethic, his understanding of the game, his candor, his ability to relate both to management and the players.
Brind’Amour, in turn, believes Dundon’s coming is what the Hurricanes organization has needed — someone willing to make changes, shake things up, ask questions and expect solutions.
“It’s been refreshing for me,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s put himself in the fire, too, and I like that. He’s trying to do it all, but I don’t think he’s going into it saying, ‘This is the way it’s going to be.’ He’s asking a lot of questions from everybody in the organization. He’s certainly passionate about what he’s doing, so I give him a lot of credit for that, and I like that.
“You get the feeling we’re either going to kill it or we’re going to get killed. To be honest, I like taking that chance. Obviously we’ve been mired in, whatever the word is, mediocrity or whatever, but I think everybody would like to see us in one place or the other but not stuck in the middle. Tom wants to know what’s going on at every level and improve it at every level.”
Brind’Amour, 47, said he was not surprised Peters decided to leave after his fourth season. Peters could well be chosen as the Calgary Flames’ next head coach, replacing Glen Gulutzan, who was fired after two seasons.
“He’s a good coach and I learned a lot from him,” said Brind’Amour, who has a year left on his contract. “What he was thinking, I don’t know, because we never talked about it. But I just know he was very competitive and maybe he felt the way we were set up we weren’t competitive enough. But that’s me speculating.”
The Canes were not competitive enough to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs, which seemed a reasonable goal before the season and for much of the season. The Canes bounced around the playoff cutline in the Eastern Conference until a fade that began in mid-February, finishing 36-35-11 and missing the playoffs for a ninth straight year.
“I think we had a bunch of guys who could have played better,” Brind’Amour said. “We did have some guys play lights-out, but, I think in order to win here, everybody has to play well. It can’t be ‘our defense was a little off’ or the ‘forwards could have been better.’ Everybody has to be dialed in. That’s the only chance we have here, and I think everybody recognizes that.
“That’s part of the challenge, what’s great about what’s here. We do need everybody to contribute and play well. The margin for error for us is not what other teams have, and we know that.”
Brind’Amour was the quintessential captain when he played for the Canes, his relentless work ethic infectious and his intensity a driving force behind the 2006 Stanley Cup champions. He wasn’t sure whether he wanted to coach after retiring as a player in June 2010, after more than 20 seasons, but soon found himself behind the Canes bench.
“The biggest challenge is you can’t play,” he said. “You’re not in control on the ice. You can only set up the game plan or visualize or express how you think it’s going to go, then it’s up to the players.
“I think the attraction to me is you can really put your plan in place and decide how to pull all the strings. You decide the ice time. You decide who’s playing or not, and in certain situations. That’s the allure of it. …”
Brind’Amour paused, again noting it sounded as if he were campaigning to be the next head coach.
“They know I’m interested, and we’ll see where it goes,” he said. “They’re going to find the best guy.”