Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe made a case for and against Rod Brind’Amour as the Carolina Hurricanes next coach. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe stays inside the organization and has similar analysis for Charlotte Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci.
The time is not now
(Repeat from Brind’Amour article since it is relevant here too.) First, to be clear, I am not suggesting that the time is now to hire a coach. Best continues to be to hire a new general manager and have that new general manager play a leading role in hiring the next coach. Hiring a coach first would send a strong message as to where the new general manager sits with regard to authority and leadership and could further complicate the search process. If the current general manager by committee situation becomes longer-term, then obviously the team will need to hire a coach with the current brain trust making the decision.
Where I ultimately land
Despite acknowledging that there was a case to be made for Brind’Amour as head coach of the Hurricanes, I ultimately voted ‘no’ simply because I did not think the timing as right to roll the dice with a coach with no head coaching experience. Mike Vellucci is different from Brind’Amour in that he actually has many years (and success) of experience at a head coach though all at lower levels. He has added a strong AHL season to his resume but has nothing for NHL coaching experience either as a head coach or an assistant. Vellucci’s potential as an up-and-comer who has succeeded at lower levels is intriguing, and he is more of a locker room outsider despite being part of the team for awhile now, but at the end of the day, I still prefer a coach with more NHL or at least AHL head coaching experience. As such, I would pass on Vellucci too and look outside the organization for the next head coach.
Mike Vellucci’s resume
Rod Brind’Amour is obviously a known commodity in the Hurricanes organization. Since Mike Vellucci’s history is maybe not as well known by many, a good starting point is detailing his resume. Working within former Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos’ lower organizations, Mike Vellucci worked his way up from the lowest rungs by being successful. He started by coaching in the Compuware team in the North American Hockey League from 1994 to 1999 where his team won two US National Championships and four Robertson Cups. Next he coached the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL from 2001 to 2008. He was again successful with a J. Ross Robertson Cup and a Memorial Cup berth for the 2006-07 season. Vellucci also won the Coach of the Year award twice and the Executive of the Year award once. He left the Whalers after the 2013-14 season to become an assistant general manager with the Carolina Hurricanes. After three seasons as an assistant general manager, Vellucci returned to coaching for the 2017-18 season where he currently has his Checkers team up two games to zero in the first round of the AHL playoffs. Though Vellucci’s coaching experience is primarily at lower levels, he has been successful both in the regular season and postseason as a coach in two extended stints at lower levels, and he does now have a single successful AHL season to add to his coaching accomplishments.
Pros of Mike Vellucci as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes
A winning track record
As I said in my Brind’Amour article, the single biggest thing the team needs right now is a ‘jolt’and change in mentality and attitude. Vellucci has won this year in Charlotte and also in previous years at lower levels. With nine straight years of playoff misses, and a disappointing 2017-18 season that seemingly revealed a team that just did not have what it took to win when it mattered, could Vellucci’s aura of winning be what it takes get him a big promotion to the NHL level? It seems at least possible.
A known quantity but still an outsider
As someone who has been with the team for four years now, he has the benefit of being known by both players and management. That brings some positives. But interestingly, Vellucci is also an outsider as far as the locker room goes. He was away from Raleigh for the 2017-18 season, and in his three prior years with the team, Vellucci was upstairs in the offices not coaching in the locker room. If one primary goal is to shake things up and change out key personnel, Vellucci is interestingly similar to hiring an outsider whereas Brind’Amour was very much in the middle of the losing in 2017-18 even if in an assistant coach role.
Well-equipped for influx of Checkers’ talent on the Hurricanes’ roster
If the 2018-19 Hurricanes roster adds a few more Checkers to the mix as expected, Vellucci is in good position to evaluate the AHL players and understand how best to leverage each’s strengths.
Cons of Mike Vellucci as head coach for the Carolina Hurricanes
Lack of NHL experience
Vellucci and Brind’Amour have different versions of the same risk. Brind’Amour has four years of NHL coaching experience, but he has never been a head coach at any level. Vellucci has a good volume of successful head coaching experience, but he has no experience whatsoever at the NHL level and only one season coaching in the professional ranks. As such, Vellucci is just a different kind of dice roll as compared to Brind’Amour.
Not truly an outside shake up
Though Vellucci has been one stepped removed from the locker room since joining the Hurricanes, he still is not an outsider in the pure sense. He is still from within the organization.
Summing it up
I think there are positives to both Rod Brind’Amour and Mike Vellucci, but at the end of the day, I do not think the time is right to roll the dice with an unproven, ‘could work’ head coach. As such, I would be looking outside the organization first and inward only if nothing else materializes.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on Mike Vellucci as a potential head coach for the 2018-19 season?
2) How would you rate/rank Vellucci as compared to Brind’Amour? What do you see as the pros and cons of each?
3) For those ready to look externally, who do you like?