Except during the COVID layoff, Canes and Coffee has always provided year-round Canes hockey coverage, so one season leads quickly into the next. But with the official end of the 2020-21 season, I would like to thank everyone who spends a portion of their Canes hockey time here. The site would not be the same without the community and especially the regulars who share great insight in the comments. I hope everyone has a tremendous summer, and I look forward to fairly quickly starting the process of debating how best to to build the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes. Go Canes — Matt
With the off-season ahead, no doubt there will be plenty of articles and time to assess the 2020-21 season for the Carolina Hurricanes. But for waking up the day after a disappointing ending, today’s Daily Cup of Joe will focus on the bigger picture which leans much more positive than negative.
The Hurricanes game 5 loss and second round dismissal for the the 2021 NHL Playoffs at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning was a massively disappointing end to a good season overall. The team competed for the President’s Trophy and won a series in the playoffs which would easily put them in the top third of teams in the NHL. But yet, the end results feel disappointing because they are. As I said on Twitter shortly after Tuesday’s game ended, the level of disappointment given the results is a testament to how far this team has come. Only three years ago, the goal very simply was just to make the playoffs. A short and crazy three years later, the bar for success has ratcheted way up and as a hockey community one can feel it today. During the off-season, we will definitely debate how close the Hurricanes really are and what is needed to take a next step, but this team is closer than it feels after the disappointment. The 2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes had a legitimate claim to being the best team in the NHL during the middle stretch of the regular season. Painfully obvious right now is the fact that all that really matters is reaching that level in the playoffs, but the regular season success does suggest that the team is at least in the neighborhood of being capable of winning it all.
Though I do think there is room for improvement from outside the current roster, at the same time I think the team will enter the 2021-22 season pretty similarly to how it entered the current season which is looking for a young roster to drive next levels of success. And though it did not work out tremendously this year, that is not a bad place to be. The core of the team is young and established but still with room to grow, and players like Martin Necas, Andrei Svechnikov and even Sebastian Aho can still reach a higher level.
Also worth noting is that winning the Stanley Cup, even for elite teams, is often a process. The current Tampa Bay Lightning team struggled mightily under the pressure of being a perennial regular season leader only to falter in the playoffs. The Washington Capitals struggled for even longer with even more debilitating setbacks before breaking through. Though just surging straight to the top of the NHL and winning the Stanley Cup would be more fun, the Hurricanes gradual progress with setbacks is actually a fairly normal path.
Put more succinctly, despite the disappointment right now, the future of the Carolina Hurricanes is still incredibly promising.