Flyers

Former Flyer Rod Brind'Amour named head coach of Hurricanes

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Former Flyer Rod Brind'Amour named head coach of Hurricanes

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes hired former captain and current assistant Rod Brind'Amour as their coach Tuesday, hoping the "greatest leader" in franchise history can end a nine-year playoff drought.

The team also announced that club president Don Waddell will become the full-time general manager after serving as acting GM.

The team scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to discuss the moves.

Waddell said a number of coaching candidates were discussed, but "our conversations with staff and players consistently returned to the same person."

One of the team's most decorated players, Brind'Amour captained the Hurricanes' only Stanley Cup championship team in 2006.

"Rod is the greatest leader in the history of this franchise, and has earned the opportunity to take charge of our locker room," Waddell said in a statement.

The two-time Selke Award winner as the NHL's best defensive forward retired in 2010 and ranks third in club history in assists (299), fourth in points (473) and fifth in games played (694).

He replaces Bill Peters, who opted out of his contract last month following his fourth year and subsequently was hired by the Calgary Flames. He becomes the Hurricanes' third straight first-time NHL head coach, after Kirk Muller and Peters.

Brind'Amour has been a Carolina assistant since 2011. He spent half his 20-season NHL career with the Hurricanes, leading them to the Stanley Cup finals in 2002 and again four years later.

But Carolina has made the playoffs only once in the 12 years since Brind'Amour hoisted the Cup, and the Hurricanes' nine-year absence from the postseason is one of the longest stretches in NHL history.

That has led to a busy five months for the Hurricanes, with Dallas businessman Tom Dundon buying a majority interest in the team from longtime owner Peter Karmanos Jr. in January.

A month later, Hall of Fame player and general manager Ron Francis -- who, like Brind'Amour, has his jersey number hanging from the PNC Arena rafters -- was reassigned to another front-office position, and his contract was terminated last week.

In between, Peters -- who was hired by Francis in 2014 -- exercised the out clause in his contract, saying the incoming general manager should be able to pick his own coach.

Turns out, that job fell to Waddell -- the former general manager and president of the Atlanta Thrashers who had been part of the Hurricanes' front office since 2014 and had been filling in since Francis' demotion and subsequent exit.

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

Chuck Fletcher was brought in because things weren't going well enough and quickly enough for the Flyers.

The predicament he inherited required eventual change.

After all, sitting alongside team president Paul Holmgren back in November, Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said the Flyers were eyeing a general manager with a "bias for action," among other qualities.

With time and evaluation, Fletcher has begun providing the desired action.

A new head coach is on board, bringing extensive experience and outside perspective, while two new assistants with strong pedigrees have been hired.

But perhaps the most influential part in shifting the Flyers' course has remained mostly intact: the roster. That could drastically change this upcoming offseason with free agency and potential trades. However, Fletcher, facing his first offseason as the Flyers' GM, doesn't see an exodus needed with the current roster — or at least not yet.

"The Flyers are a great opportunity. You guys are in this market, for me coming in from the outside, I know when Paul Holmgren approached me about being the general manager of the Flyers, I'm like, 'Wow.' This is a premium job in the National Hockey League and we're set up where we should have an opportunity to get better quickly," Fletcher said April 18. "I know we need more good players, but we have a lot of good players. It's not like you have to gut this thing — we have cap space, we have picks. We have really good staff, really good staff. On the scouting and management side, I've added one person, I haven't subtracted anything. There's a good group here and we have the ability to get better quickly if we all do our job."

Therein lies a poignant and undeniable pressure on Fletcher in Year 1 with the Flyers under Alain Vigneault's watch.

Aside from Wayne Simmonds, who became an inevitable piece to move given the circumstances, the Flyers' core has survived. So, too, has the overall makeup of the roster.

Fletcher, Vigneault and the Flyers believe this team can win with a refined system and different guidance. They don't exactly see a team that has missed the playoffs every other season since 2012-13, a stretch consisting of three first-round exits.

Will Fletcher add this summer? Of course — the ability to do so is one of the reasons why Vigneault found the Flyers as an attractive destination. When Fletcher was hiring Vigneault, the two established a list of areas in which the Flyers can improve.

"We're looking at some options and if we can put the right things in place," Vigneault said at his introduction, "it's going to be a lot of fun."

Significant subtraction was not featured on the list.

"There's some solid youth with a lot of upside here that is coming into its own," Vigneault said. "There's great goaltending, being one of those youth pieces. There's a solid core group that, in my mind, needs the right direction. And you've got the combination, also, of some solid veteran players that have been in the league a few years, that can still contribute at a high level in this league. … After discussing it with a lot of people that I respect their opinion in the NHL, I feel that the Flyers are a very good team that with the proper direction, proper mindset, proper culture and people working together, will be a very good team in the near future."

That's why Year 1 will be so telling.

Vigneault is a coach with a tremendous track record of winning during his first season on the job. He did so at three separate stops (see story). Michel Therrien has 38 postseason victories under his belt as a head coach and took a team to the Stanley Cup Final. Mike Yeo owns three playoff series victories as a head coach and has a ring as an assistant.

If this group can't produce the results with the Flyers' roster, Fletcher will have to take a longer, much more serious look at the players in place and make his hardest decisions yet.

At that point, it may be the only action left.

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

There has been a ton of drama only three games into the Western Conference Final between the Sharks and Blues.

Game 3 was won by the Sharks, 5-4, in overtime, but not without controversy. San Jose may have gotten away with a hand pass on the game-winning goal.

The series will shift one way or the other Friday night with Game 4.

Below is the schedule for Day 37 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues (SJS 2-1)
Game 4, Western Conference Final
8 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here