By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – Approximately 72 hours after Bill Peters parted ways with the Carolina Hurricanes, the result of exercising an out-clause in his contract, the former head coach was announced on Monday as the new bench boss of the Calgary Flames.
According to Flames general manager Brad Treliving, the discussion with Peters had the blessing of Hurricanes majority owner Tom Dundon as of last week.
“I wanna thank the Carolina Hurricanes for their cooperation in that process,” Treliving said in opening Peters’ presentation as the Flames’ new coach.
It was a tight timeline under which Peters had to figure out if he would stay or he would go, but honestly, the return to his home province of Alberta was a fait accompli.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to coach in the National Hockey League, and even more so to do it in your home province,” Peters said.
“It really is an opportunity to come home, being from Alberta, being a Canadian, and coming into a great situation with a passionate fanbase, and a real good team – a real good roster.”
Yes, it’s always exciting to go home, but were fans in Raleigh not passionate? Was the team not good?
Well, not good enough as the Hurricanes didn’t make the playoffs during Peters’ four years leading it, adding to a previous five non-postseason rosters led by two other coaches in Paul Maurice and Kirk Muller, respectively.
The difference for Peters though was that he didn’t have to include the word ‘fired’ on his resume.
Pulling the Chute early
In a radio interview with the FAN 960 in Calgary later in the day, Peters revealed that he had been seriously considering his exit from Carolina during the final days and games of the regular season. It came about as a result of so much happening around PNC Arena since January when Dundon took over the team.
“You probably start thinkin’ about it even around Game 80, 81, 82,” Peters stated.
“You start talkin’ to your family and start figurin’ out a plan, right? It just became clear to me every time I wrote the pros and cons of every situation was. The right thing to do is when there’s new ownership, new management, to allow them the opportunity to hire a coach. I truly believe that’s the right thing to do, so for me to resign gives them that opportunity.”
As the interview continued, the the hints of things that went awry in Raleigh surfaced.
Asked if he would have stayed had former Carolina general manager Ron Francis remained in his position Peters said, ”that’s a good question – but one that we don’t have to worry about because it’s not fact.”
Saying the right and true things
After four years of getting his opportunity to become a head coach from Francis, Peters had worked his way through challenging and frustrating times, working with a young team that earned him a 137-138-53 overall record.
“I thought Ronnie had a really good plan going in,” Peters said.
“The organization was really thin when we first got there, both at the NHL level and the American Hockey League level. Now it’s one of the deeper organizations and systems in the National Hockey League with real good, high-level prospects down in the American Hockey League. I think it’s in better shape now long-term and short-term than when we originally got there. I think it’s a group that’s real close, ready to pop, and I wish them the best.”
From the Rockies with love
And just like that, while the Calgary Flames filled their coaching vacancy in days with a promising team, Peters’ exit created another void for the Hurricanes who now operate with an interim GM in Don Waddell and no head coach.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for my family and myself, both personally and professionally,” Peters said.
“There’s 31, possibly going to be 32 teams in the league; seven located in Canada and six Original Six franchises. And when you’re in one of those markets, there’s a different feel and a different buzz. And as an athlete and as a coach you appreciate that energy and passion for the game.”
To clarify – Raleigh is neither in Canada or in an Original Six market, so the former coach lobbed that one out there rather nicely.
Redo and Do-Over
Of course, Peters showed his excitement at continuing his coaching career with a new team, albeit in a similar situation as the Hurricanes, currently sitting out the postseason.
However, he now has the upside of starting anew and continuing his NHL head coaching tenure with a much more mature demeanor in how he would approach the situation with the Flames.
At no point did he offer any aggressive sound bites on Day One.
When introduced as the head coach in Raleigh back in June 2014, Peters talked of holding “the ultimate hammer”.
“That’s my ultimate weapon as a coach; it’s the ice time,” he said.
Unlike his introduction at PNC Arena back then where no players were present, a handful of Flames watched him in Calgary, including captain Mark Giordano.
They wanted to know what this guy was all about since, you know, they’ve heard things.
Four years later, after swinging his hammer in every direction possible in North Carolina, Peters hopefully has realized that he may have to change things up a bit in Alberta.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport