By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – So work with me here.
As rumors of contract talks between Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour and the organization, more specifically with General Manager Don Waddell and majority owner Tom Dundon, began to ramp up particularly in recent days, it seemed that something wasn’t right or was it?
Last week Dundon was on a Zoom call/podcast and said that he would not want to own the team if Brind’Amour was not the coach.
On the Bob McCown Podcast with John Shannon, he told McCown and Shannon as much, and how important the team’s former captain and Stanley Cup champion is to the organization.
“His contract’s up, are you concerned? Is he gonna be the coach in October?” Shannon asked him.
“Yeah, of course,” Dundon quickly replied.
“I’ve never been concerned….He’s the best – it’s not close to the top of my worries.”
Shannon quickly responded; “So the contract’s in the desk drawer and you’re just waitin’ for a quiet day and you can announce to everybody that Rod Brind’Amour’s comin’ back?”
With a slight pause and smile Dundon said, “Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if it’s that linear, but it’s…it’s…I have no interest in owning a team if he’s not coaching it. So, he’s gonna coach it.”
Hurry up already
However, what does that type of response mean?
Why hasn’t this deal been signed and done already?
Brind’Amour said just over a month ago that contract talks were not first on his mind, and it was not a distraction to him or his team.
“I’m going to coach my team here as best I can, no matter what, so hopefully we get something done,” Brind’Amour said to local media.
“We’ll see how that all shakes out, but that’s certainly not a distraction.”
Carolina leads the league heading into the NHL playoffs with three games remaining, following a 6-3 win over Chicago on Tuesday night.
With things going so positively for the Hurricanes, and now with fans and local media pleading the case for Brind’Amour to be considered for the Jack Adams Trophy, the details of the delay had an enhancement.
Over the past weekend, SportsNet NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman pointed that news out on Saturday’s broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada, and as a follow-up with Jeff Marek during their 31 Thoughts podcast.
‘Rod Brind’Amour is stepping up for his staff in Carolina.’
While it has been an exciting spring in Carolina as the team’s success has earned it a third consecutive playoff run, the primary reason for a contract not being inked already is the apparent result of Brind’Amour ‘flexing’ in negotiations to not only sign his deal, but also to get more money and/or contracts signed for the team’s assistant coaches, as well as the training and equipment staffs.
That is why he hasn’t signed a deal yet, according to Friedman.
General Manager Don Waddell has said previously that it’s very tough for him to get time to talk with Brind’Amour because he’s been busy coaching the team to success.
“Pinning Rod down and getting an hour to talk about this is, like, nearly impossible,” Waddell noted.
“He’s worried about his coaching this team. So a couple of times on the road, we grab some time and that. So you know, I know he’s not worried about it. We’re not worried about it. We’ve had enough talks to get us to a point where I think we’re all feeling like we’ll get this done.”
Is it bad that Brind’Amour doesn’t want to talk, or has said enough, because he’s focused on coaching?
Or is it that there’s nothing to discuss until all his terms are met to look after not only himself but everybody else working to make this team to success that it is?
Friedman’s report seems to indicate so.
Reading between the lines
So here’s a thought – my thought and one only derived from reading between the lines.
Refer to the marketing genius of the Hurricanes over the past three years.
There’ve been a number of good promotions and ‘feel good’ announcements in the past, and the most recent being Jordan Staal’s 1000th game pregame ceremony, T-shirt and litho print reveal.
Other than that, the most notable significant marketable event for this team up to this point this year has been its success on the ice.
So, it seems peculiar that Dundon would mention and bring up openly in the media how he feels about having Brind’Amour as the coach right now.
He says he wouldn’t want to own the team if Rod wasn’t the coach.
Okay, so sign the contract and be done with it.
The stretch and dark thought would be that by doing this publicly, Dundon is putting more pressure on Brind’Amour to sign.
Meaning that if he walks because he doesn’t get the contract he wants, nor if his support staff are not taken care of, Dundon can then be open and free to sell the team.
That Seattle expansion money will be a nice windfall thank you very much.
And a team that Brind’Amour loves would possibly move after such a good run?
A veiled threat?
No – just contrived drama.
I’m a Hurricane – In Rod We Trust
Now from darkness to sunshine.
Everyone knows where the successful head coach’s loyalties lie.
“I’ve had great conversations with Don and Tom,” Brind’Amour said during Tuesday’s pregame media Zoom call.
“Obviously, everyone knows I’m a Hurricane. That’s the priority. I’m confident that we’ll resolve it all. I don’t really think that it’s much of priority right now. We’re focusing on trying to win the games, have the best season; I think we’ll manage to get everything sorted out.”
Imagine all of this working out just as the team’s heading into the playoffs, getting people excited with the signing taking place just before the team’s opening round game.
I envision seeing thousands of freshly screened red ‘In Rod we Trust’ T-shirts (with a photo of him on the back titled ‘I’m a Hurricane!’), ready to go as playoffs open up.
The smell of ink will be overpowering.
Would this be possible?
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility with how this organization handles marketing and promoting everything that’s good about this team on a daily basis.
Just the way business is done.
Waiting until the 11th hour to sign a deal is normal business practice for Dundon.
But then again, so is not signing and letting Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers walk away.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport