Promise of new season echoes among Carolina Hurricanes
Posted September 5
Raleigh, N.C. — Like a track stuck on repeat, every year at this time we hear the same phrase: It's playoffs or bust for the Carolina Hurricanes.
"It's been said, I think it'll be said again, it's up to us now to make it happen," Jeff Skinner said Tuesday when the team met the media for the first time since another non-playoff season ended in April.
How did those previous seasons end? Prematurely. Carolina holds the "distinction" of the NHL's longest active postseason drought.
So, what makes every Cane feel like the bar's finally raised?
"It's higher than it's ever been here in my tenure with Carolina," head coach Bill Peters said.
"It's more exciting than it was last year, and I'm excited to get it going this season," said General Manager Ron Francis.
It starts with the young, talented defense. The Canes have Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin locked up long-term, added to a group that includes Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin.
Sebastian Aho scored more goals in his rookie year than there are candles on his birthday cake.
While Jeff Skinner, who somehow just turned 25, netted a career-high 37.
"I think when you look at our roster on paper we're a team that can make the playoffs. I think we're a team that's talented and competitive and fast," Francis said.
Then, there are the additions, guys with Stanley Cup pedigrees. Guys like Marcus Kruger, Trevor Van Riemsdyk, and the biggest acquisition of all: Justin Williams, someone worthy of wearing the C perhaps.
"Every now and then you need to make that next step, and Carolina is certainly ready to make that next step. I'm not backing off of any of my comments I made earlier, this is a playoff team, and we expect to be there," forward Justin Williams said.
The biggest symbol of change and transition? New goaltender Scott Darling getting the invite to Media Day over veteran Cam Ward.
"I'm really excited for the opportunity. I know nothing is handed to you," Darling said. "Cam Ward is a great goalie. I was lucky enough to meet him today for the first time. He seems like an awesome guy. I'm looking forward to being goalie partners with him."
With these pieces in place, will the 82-games-and-out cycle finally be broken?
Practices get underway in just 10 days.