Everybody needs evaluating during long offseason for Canes
Posted April 10, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Another year without playoff hockey in the Triangle is bringing even more angst, anger and apathy than usual to the fan base of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Changes are certain to come to the hockey team that occupies the PNC Arena, but will they be changes that turn the franchise into a perennial playoff contender?
Simply hearing the owner of the team, Peter Karmanos, say, “tweaks or major tweaks and attitude adjustments are needed,” doesn’t make the concerns of the fan base go away. What “tweaks” exactly can we expect and what attitudes need changing?
When the fans hear that the owner likes the team, it does not instill any more confidence in a dwindling season ticket holder base. It is clear that steps are needed to put the team on the right path – and they are inevitably coming this off-season.
Asking the fans to be patient again as the team tries to figure out what tweaks will come, has puts the outrage meter in the red. Patience is just about worn thin.
What needs to happen might be drastic to fans, but nobody can look at the last five years and say it has been working. No department - from the GM to the last player in the organization - should avoid the magnifying glass. From draft philosophy to the culture of the team, all of it has to be reviewed this off-season.
If that means fan favorites are dealt in favor of putting a better product on the ice, then make the deal. There is a universal truth in pro sports: you have more fan favorites on a playoff team.
For too long it seems like the answer has been ownership assuring fans the team is “a few tweaks away from being the playoff team.” The reality is that the team should not be trying to go for the quick fix of chasing the playoffs year-to-year, but instead chasing the playoffs year-after-year. Yes, the team has been close to making the playoffs these past four years, but close does not get a franchise into the post season and the “one player away” excuse has long been exhausted.
Therein lies the rub for the fans and organization. The parts of this team on their own are good. Good yes, but not great - great parts generally get into the playoffs. This is not a franchise that is a No. 6-12 draft pick or just one or two normal free agents away. It does start with identifying the players that have the make up to lead a postseason team, though.
The scouting department has to constantly be evaluating if the current players that are good enough to carry the team on a nightly basis. Is the draft philosophy producing enough players, not just first-round talent, but the depth that pushes players to improve? What is the plan for how the team will look in five years?
This offseason, the Hurricanes from top to bottom have to stop treating the symptoms and do what needs to be done cure the main problem of missing the playoffs. It might be painful for some in the organization and for the fans that cheer for it, but not as painful as a sixth season without playoff hockey in Carolina.