Folks, its the most wonderful time of the year: The Offseason. Six straight months of the Canes not making us sad night in and night out. Six months of speculating about what the Canes have to do in order to compete well next year because next year is the year, isn’t it? Just like every year. Sorry if this has started off pretty snarky, but its just a product of what I’ve become. This season took a toll on me as a hockey fan. The last 6-8 months have taken a toll on me as a person, to be completely transparent. Trying to finish my last year of college, receiving and accepting a job offer before I’ve even graduated, and then starting that job shortly after the new year has made life pretty interesting to say the least. Then add to that the mess that is Hurricanes hockey, and you have the recipe for a pretty apathetic content creator.
The irony of it all is that I was more excited for this hockey season than I had been at any other time in my life. Flashback to this time last year. The Canes season ended, and this site was just starting to spread its wings. All of us who were part of the CBTS team at the time were pushing out content feverishly. Matt and I recorded a handful of podcasts. The effort I was putting into this site last offseason combined with the Darling trade/signing, the Draft, and bringing back Justin Williams had me so amped up for the season. That offseason really made it seem like this year was the year. It had to be.
Attending the season/home opener back in October was a blast. The tailgate was incredible as always. The game was wild. The “Lets Go Canes” chant before the team even took the ice gave me chills. The back and forth affair between the Canes and the Wild was incredible to watch. I got to see Eric Staal score a goal in person for the first time in a few years, albeit a goal against the hurricanes. And then to top it all off Jaccob Slaving put two points in the bag with a sick shootout goal to end the night. That game is probably my favorite hockey game that Ive ever attended.
I was on pace to break a personal record for live hockey games attended in one season in the fall. I was going to SPHL games, college games, I even went to Tennessee to watch the Canes play the Preds, and then two days later I was in Raleigh watching the Canes play the Sabres. Hockey was fun again. Until it wasn’t. The Canes were playing their best hockey just before the All Star break, and then the wheels fell off. Why? I have no idea. Blame the coach. Blame the GM. Blame the ownership change. Blame the players. Blame whoever you want to, it doesn’t matter. The team is flawed from top to bottom. I wont get into that this time around, but its worth pointing out. The point is the Canes weren’t just in a playoff spot; the were comfortably in a playoff spot. They had the first wild card at one point if I remember correctly, and were only a point or two out of third in the freaking metro until it all fell apart.
And once it all came unglued, I lost interest. I never watched a full game from puck drop to the final buzzer after the All Star break. The team’s terminal inconsistency left me baffled. Scorers couldn’t score consistently. Goalies couldn’t stop a beach ball. Special teams were a mess. Worst of all, the team did absolutely nothing to address the issues. Nothing at all. No trades, no roster moves, nothing. The coaching staff acted like their hands were tied behind their backs, and they couldn’t mend the ship that was taking on water until it was too late. The GM sat up top with his hands in his pockets. The new “no nonsense” and “all I do is win” owner didn’t pressure his personnel to make the adjustments necessary in order to right the ship. It was more of the same: a midseason collapse with no adjustments followed by a late, meaningless push. The only members of this organization that get a pass from me this season are Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho, and Teuvo Teravainen. Staal went through an unimaginable loss, and Aho and TT were the only consistent producers. I won’t discredit any of the efforts put forth by the three of them this season.
By the end of the season, I couldn’t have cared less about the Canes. Its awful to say, but it is the truth. I was very disappointed in the organization. To be honest, I am discouraged about the state of the franchise going forward. They’re doing a great job of growing the fanbase on step at a time, and i commend the marketing team for its efforts this year. However, growing a passionate fanbase and then rewarding them with a bad on ice product isn’t acceptable. Firing (or reassigning, however you wish to phrase it) your GM with 15 or so games left was a highly questionable move, regardless of if he planned to step down or not. It was done after the trade deadline. The roster was set. They had made their bed and had to lay in it. That move was pointless.
Then to step into other organization’s business and say “Hey I want to interview your guy while you’re trying to finish this season and make the playoffs or win a championship” was not the correct way to approach things, in my (unimportant) opinion. The only thing that could’ve made things worse would have been dismissing Coach Peters at the same time. I’m not saying the team should not consider a coaching change, but I am saying that (along with firing your GM) that kind of move either needed to be made earlier in the season, or in the offseason. Basically, I don’t like the image that Dundon has given the organization at this point. I don’t think its attractive to prospective GMs, coaches, or free agents. However, It isn’t fair to judge Dundon this early into his regime, especially since he took over midseason, and has not had a summer to implement his plans for the franchise. Regardless, I’m still concerned about how this offseason will play out. Changes need to be made, but the question is will they be made? Time will tell.
In summary, the disastrous second half of the season took the joy of hockey from me. I couldn’t force myself to carve time out of my life to write about something that didn’t make me happy. I wouldn’t have been able to be true to our overly optimistic brand image on this site if I had. So I stepped away for a bit. I didn’t keep up with the sport at all. I missed another 100 point campaign from McDavid. Giroux had a 100 point season too (where the hell did that come from?). Eric Staal scored 42 freaking goals. Ovi almost hit 50. Tampa and Boston dominated the league. Vegas did the unthinkable. I mean come on. Who thought they’d actually make the playoffs? I missed an exciting hockey season. I hope that I will be able to enjoy another Canesless postseason. I’ll be pulling for the Predators again this postseason, and hopefully they’ll get the job done this time.
Moving forward, I hope that I learn to love the Canes again. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, so the offseason might be the remedy for that. Its going to be a fun summer for the CBTS crew. The podcast will make a return, mark my words. I freaking love talking about hockey, so sitting down with my best hockey friends and spewing nonsense for a few hours is a great time. We’ll write more opinionated nonsense about what we think the team should do. We took over the reigns of Canes Prospects this season, and Matt has done an extraordinary job of managing that by himself. I plan to be more involved in prospects coverage after I graduate and actually have some free time. Matt and I share a love of prospects, and I can’t wait to be more involved in that this summer and next season. There are good things coming from CBTS, I promise.
Now if you’ve made it this far and are still reading this for some reason, I want to say a couple quick thank yous. First, thank you to Dylan, Matt, Jonathan, Tyler, Chris, Savannah, and Neha for being great friends and better people. I wouldn’t want to run this site with a different group of people. Secondly, I want to extend a thank you to the rest of my hockey family. There’s a long list of you all, but a few individuals keep me sane on Twitter. This post is already to long to individually name you all, but you know who you are. Thanks for being great people and great friends.
Now let us go forth into the offseason, hit reset, and make next year the year, shall we?