Will he stay or will he go? Hurricanes still waiting on answer from Peters on contract
The Carolina Hurricanes are still waiting on an answer from head coach Bill Peters.
Don Waddell, the Canes’ president and interim general manager, said Monday that Peters, who has coached the Hurricanes the past four years, has until Friday to exercise the exit clause on his contract. Waddell confirmed that Peters has one year remaining on his contract, with a $1.6 million salary.
Waddell said there have been calls to the Hurricanes asking permission to speak to Peters about coaching jobs, but did not say how many teams have called.
“I don’t think he’s fighting to get out the door,” Waddell said of Peters. “But that’s his right, that’s in his contract. He’s got to weigh out all his options.”
Canes majority owner Tom Dundon said he is being “pretty flexible” with Peters.
“This is the time of the year you’re trying to figure out all these things,” Dundon said. “Bill’s working it out and we’re looking at things and we’ll keep talking.”
Asked if he anticipated Peters wanting to return, Dundon said, “I honestly don’t have a feeling on it. Right now I feel like we’re looking at everything, so I don’t have any strong feelings about any outcomes yet.”
Dundon has been generally supportive of Peters, who has been unable to coach the Canes into the playoffs, praising Peters’ organization and preparation. But Dundon was not happy with the way the team faded in the final months of the season to finish 36-35-11 and well out of playoff contention in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
“The record tells you who you are. We were pretty healthy, and we weren’t good enough,” Dundon said last week in his end-of-season press conference.
It has been a learning process for Dundon, a Dallas billionaire, since formally becoming the majority owner in mid-January. He reassigned general manager Ron Francis to the position of president of hockey operations on March 7, ostensibly to get a head start on hiring a new GM, but had the interview process quickly slowed.
Dundon wanted to have some PNC Arena enhancements completed, for next season, including a new blueline-to-blueline scoreboard, a 3D projection system and theatrical lighting. But in dealing with the Centennial Authority, the arena landlord, Dundon now has run into a roadblock.
While the authority agreed to move up funding from fiscal 2020 to fiscal 2019 for the projects, the scoreboard now has been delayed. In a meeting Monday of the authority’s building and construction committee, Waddell was told additional time would be needed in selecting the vendor, then assessing the structural changes in the arena needed to support a 50,000-pound scoreboard.
“For the sake of the building and the new owner, I know this is a disappointment, but this is absolutely a better way forward,” committee chairman Steve Stroud said.
Waddell, president of Gale Force Sports & Entertainment, the Canes’ umbrella company, said he would not be a candidate for the general manager position. He said interview requests for the GM position is “starting to pick up again.”
“With the timing, a lot of these guys are going on playoff runs,” Waddell said of potential candidates. “Plus some people think there’s going to be 12 GM openings and they’re going to have their pick-of-the-litter thing.”