Thank you and request for help
First, I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who spent part of the 2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes hockey time at Canes and Coffee and a special thank you to the regular patrons of the Coffee Shop whose opinions, insight and friendly debate have become the best part of Canes and Coffee. Also, for those newer Canes fans who joined because of the contagious fun during the 2018-19 season, I am thrilled to see our Hurricanes hockey community growing again.
If you appreciated Canes and Coffee’s daily Canes coverage during the 2018-19 season, please consider a small ‘cup of coffee’ size contribution to help fund our operations. We run on a lean budget, but it still is not free to keep the site up. The hope is to do another round of required and possibly some extra maintenance during the off-season, so contributions are appreciated in either of two ways.
In addition, we just started a relationship with Fanatics. Canes and Coffee will receive a portion of purchases made through our links.
Summer plans for Canes and Coffee
With the short gap (Hooray! Finally!!) between the end of the season and start of the off-season festivities including the draft, prospect camp and free agency, the tentative plan is to continue with daily Canes coverage through the front part of the summer and possibly take a short break during the back half of the summer.
In addition to the regular Daily Cup of Joe articles, the hope is to restart The Coffee Shop posts with reader polls and conversation questions most, if not all, Mondays.
Carry forwards from the 2018-19 regular season and playoffs
Now four days past the sudden ending of the 2018-19 season and with a couple days to digest all that happened, timing is good for a first look at what carries forward from the 2018-19 season.
Learning what it takes X2
I think the most significant thing that comes out of the 2018-19 is learning what it takes to be successful at the NHL level in two regards. First, the young team learned what is required to grind out a playoff berth through ups and downs and a long NHL season even in the face of adversity. The arduous task that lasted the better part of four months likely played a role in the team finally hitting a wall, but I also think that the grind starting in January will benefit the team in terms of building resiliency and learning how to stay focused and hungry each and every game to collect every point possible. That should benefit his young group into the future.
I also think that both the partial playoff success and ultimate failure will pay huge dividends in the future. The team faced its share of adversity in the Capitals series and chances to quit on the series before prevailing and also experienced more success against the Islanders. Knowing just how hard it can be to prevail will also be valuable going forward. In addition, the series sweep at the hands of the Bruins should do more harm than good long-term. The series shows just how fleeting momentum and success can be in the playoffs. The Hurricanes seemed to have game 1 in hand and paused only briefly. Then bam! — The series is suddenly over. That too should be a learning point going forward.
I think it can be underestimated how much of a learning process it can be for young and previously unsuccessful teams to push over the hump. For multiple years, the Hurricanes had mostly been able to muster some kind of a push but not one that was big enough or soon enough to make the playoffs. This group now knows what that extra level looks like and feels like which should make it easier to reach it again instead of grasping and missing as in the past.
Arguably greater than anything else will be what was learned in terms of leadership. The future leadership of the Carolina Hurricanes is incredibly young. A full season with Justin Williams doing an incredible job of leading creates a blueprint for the next captain of this team but maybe even more significantly the entire roster. (Good teams in the NHL have leadership in layers.) Sebastian Aho spent the season in the locker next to Williams seeing how he interacted with team mates, how he interacted with the media, how he made things fun when appropriate, but also how he knew when he needed to call the team out and demand more. In that regard, the Justin Williams’ stamp on the culture of the organization during the 2018-19 season will be felt for many years after he is gone (hopefully not just yet).
A measuring point for management
If the players stay hungry for more and keep working hard, this team should become better just from young players continuing to mature, but there is also room for Don Waddell and company to make moves to improve this team from outside. In playing at a peak level for an extended stretch of the 2018-19 season and then doing so again in the 2019 NHL Playoffs, management should have a better read on where exactly the peak version of this team lands and where it has deficiencies or weaknesses that need to be addressed to ultimately reach an even higher level.
Individual players’ self assessments
As successful as this team was, it still came up short and in being swept by the Bruins did so in a significant way in the end. On the one hand, the group did well, but on the other hand a good number of players could have done more especially in the Boston series. With a significant number of Hurricanes players reaching the NHL playoffs for the first time, the past five weeks have been a brand new experience. With the summer to reflect, each individual player should hopefully come away with areas for improvement and a hunger to be even better the next time around.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What do you see as the most significant carry forward(s) from the 2018-19 regular season?
2) What do you see as the biggest carry forwards and also hopeful lessons learned from the playoffs?