If you missed it yesterday, be sure to see where fans land with regard to the Carolina Hurricanes captaincy for the 2018-19 season in the polls with the article on that subject yesterday.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe will dial up a dose of optimism by looking at similarities between the current state of the Carolina Hurricanes and the 2005-06 team that rose up from low expectations to shock everyone and hoist the Stanley Cup.
To be clear, my point is not to predict that the same will happen but rather to remind everyone that in the topsy turvy NHL, it is in fact possible.
A new(ish) coach of the rally the troops variety
In 2005-06, Peter Laviolette was not technically a new coach. He had closed out a 2003-04 season behind the Hurricanes bench. But it was his first full season with the Hurricanes. Rod Brind’Amour will similarly represent a coaching change and hopefully a new attitude and mentality. More significantly, best guess is that Brind’Amour will bring some of Laviolette’s style challenging players and pushing them to find a higher level.
The departure of a scoring star
For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the Hurricanes will be without Jeff Skinner. Somewhat like Jeff O’Neill, Skinner had become a leading scorer and veteran despite his young age, but as a player who never really rounded out his game, the team opted to part ways with him rather than work to ink him to an extension. The situation looks a bit like Jeff O’Neill’s from the 2005-06. At the same time that Rod Brind’Amour was digging his heels in in Raleigh as a team leader for the next leg up for the team, O’Neill ironically preferred to leave to join a Cup contender. The 2005-06 team obviously did fine minus a player who was recently a leading scorer. The 2018-19 team will try to do the same minus Jeff Skinner.
A rebuilt blue line
Before the 2005-06 season, the team added Frantisek Kaberle and Mike Commodore who would both play their way into the top 4 and be part of a defense that was unheralded but good enough for a team that played a get up and go kind of style. Heading into the 2018-19 season, the Hurricanes roster will again include two newcomers on defense in Dougie Hamilton and Calvin de Haan.
The volume of changes makes any kind of projection difficult
A key facet of the 2005-06 magic was the volume of changes that made it impossible for the experts to forecast results for the team. Following the 2004-05 season lost to the lockout, two offseasons made for a high volume of changes. Players new to the NHL roster in 2005-06 included Martin Gerber, Cam Ward, Mike Commodore, Frantisek Kaberle, Cory Stillman, Ray Whitney, Matt Cullen and Chad LaRose for eight newcomers. The 2018-19 roster will similarly see almost half of the players change over.
Again, the aim of this article is not to predict a Stanley Cup win but rather to suggest that is always possible. But I do also note a few key differences between the two teams. Maybe most significantly, the 2005-06 team was a veteran bunch. The changes in the lineup were largely the result of opportunistically adding good veteran players from teams trying to fit under the new salary cap. The 2018-19 team figures to be very young with as many as four rookies in the lineup. Another difference is that the 2005-06 season represented a complete reset for the entire league after the lockout season. The league’s attempt to open up the game by cracking down on previously permissible obstruction played right into the hands of a Hurricanes team that was heavy on skill and skating at the forward position.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you see any other similarities between the current state of the Canes entering the 2018-19 season and the 2005-06 Cup winners?
2) Based on the 2005-06 magic, do you believe that anything is possible?
3) What would it take for this team to shock everyone and hoist the Stanley Cup in Raleigh again?