Jeff Daniels is no stranger to the Carolina Hurricanes bench, having played and coached for the Canes in the past.
He’s also happy to be going back behind it.
The Hurricanes announced Monday that Daniels, 49, has been named an assistant coach for new head coach Rod Brind’Amour, completing the coaching staff. Assistant coach Steve Smith and goaltending coach Mike Bales return from last year's staff under former coach Bill Peters.
Daniels has been serving a director of pro scouting for the Hurricanes, and said he will continue in the short term to assist general manager Don Waddell as the Canes assess players who may be available, either through trades or free-agent signings.
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“i really enjoyed the scouting part of it,” Daniels said Monday. “I got a chance to watch the game differently. But I always said you miss being in the fire, that competition.
“When you’re in it, it’s stressful with the ups and downs. You get out of it and you miss that. You miss the competition and competing to win and game-planning and all that. Being at meetings recently and watching Roddy (Brind’Amour) prepare for the job and listening to him talk got me excited.”
Soon after Peters announced he was resigning as coach, leaving after four years to become head coach of the Calgary Flames, Brind’Amour publicly stated he wanted to be considered for the head-coaching job. Brind’Amour had been a Canes assistant for seven years, first under Kirk Muller and then Peters, and believed he was ready to take the step up and be a head coach for the first time.
Brind’Amour talked to several candidates for the assistant’s job, but Daniels was always high on the list. The two were teammates on the 2002 Hurricanes team that reached the Stanley Cup final, and Daniels an assistant on the 2006 Stanley Cup champions captained by Brind’Amour.
The two have experienced the highs of the sport -- Daniels won a Stanley Cup as a player with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992. Both are determined to pull the Canes out of the rut that has seen the team miss the playoffs nine straight years.
“I’ve talked with Roddy and this is kind of personal for us,” Daniels said. “We’ve seen it when the team has done well and we want to get back to that.”
Asked why Brind’Amour should make a good head coach, Daniels said, “Right away, the respect. I think that’s the key. He’s got the respect of the players from what he did during his career but also the respect from guys watching him work, day in and day out, as an assistant.
“They know he’s an extremely hard worker. They know he’s not going to ask them to do anything he didn’t do when he played. He’ll be fair with them and honest with them. Bottom line, you need everybody to buy into what Roddy will be selling and everybody on the same page.”
Daniels said he gained invaluable experience in being a head coach at the American Hockey League level, guiding the Canes’ AHL affiliates in Albany, N.Y., and then Charlotte from 2008 to 2015. He had a seven-year record of 268-225-51.
“No matter what level, you have more responsibility, you have the final say,” Daniels said. “You get feedback from other coaches but as the head coach you have to make the decisions. There’s a lot of interaction with players, meetings and stuff.
“It helps you grow as a coach. As much as you think you know what’s going on, something’s always going to come up you haven’t dealt with before. At that level, it’s no different than as a player. You’re down there to learn and learn from your mistakes and try different things.”
Daniels said he’s not sure yet about his duties with the Canes. Brind’Amour, for example, handled the power play for Peters. But all that will be sorted out.
“I’m totally in, and whatever he wants me to do I’ll be on-board to do,” Daniels said.