My last article before taking a week off offered a checklist of four items left before the start of training camp. The road jersey is on tap for today. The big one remaining is whether Justin Williams returns. Could that be part of the jersey reveal? While I was away, the Hurricanes took care of the other two which were re-signing Don Waddell and adding goalie coach Jason Muzzatti. As part of catching up on the week away, today’s Daily Cup of Joe has quick thoughts on Don Waddell’s new deal and the addition of Jason Muzzatti.
After a bit of a ruckus with Waddell first being named a candidate for the open Minnesota Wild general manager position and then actually making the trip there to interview, that situation was officially put to bed last week when Waddell was inked to a three-year contract. Somewhat like the Sebastian Aho situation, the path to get there was an odd one, but in the end the situation was resolved mostly as expected.
I was not high on the team passing on hiring a new general manager last summer and instead just going with the current group with Waddell seemingly at the helm of a committee. But one year later, I have to give credit where it is due. The Hurricanes had a successful 2018-19 campaign pushing up into the playoffs and then surging to the Eastern Conference Finals before hitting the wall against the Bruins. And Waddell played a significant role in the team’s success revamping the team during the off-season and following up with a great trade adding Nino Niederreiter for Victor Rask. As such, it was a no-brainer for me to bring Waddell back for at least one more season.
The only thing maybe a bit surprising about the deal was the three-year term. Going from not really caring for contracts of any kind to three years seems like an odd leap. I would have expected either a minimum one-year deal that matched up with what Tom Dundon had been saying or perhaps a two-year deal if Waddell exercised some leverage from a successful 2018-19 season. I would interpret the longer three-year term as a strong indication that Dundon is happy with Waddell in this role for the long haul after his trial in 2018-19.
Also working on my checklist, the Hurricanes signed Jason Muzzatti as a goalie coach to replace Mike Bales. Most recently, Muzzatti has been the goalie coach of the Michigan State Spartans for the past four years. Arguably most notable about Muzzatti’s history is the fact that he played with Rod Brind’Amour at Michigan State and has seemingly maintained a relationship since then. In that regard, the signing follows the trend of hiring familiar faces. Naming Rod Brind’Amour the head coach put an early stake in the ground. Jeff Daniels as an assistant was another step in that direction. Next, the Canes stayed internal naming Don Waddell as General Manager. More recently the Hurricanes promoted assistant coach Ryan Warsofsky to replace Mike Vellucci and then naming former Hurricanes player Patrick Dwyer as an assistant.
The sample size is small, but the first-year return on the preference for hiring known quantities was positive. Adding new viewpoints from outside the current group can be valuable but so can having a tight-knit group that works well together. Time will tell if the team’s bias for hiring known quantities continues to be a winner.
As for Muzzatti, his new role will be his first as an NHL goalie coach. The job description as the NCAA level is significantly different than the work at the NHL level. Being an NCAA coach for 18-23 year old prospects is heavy in teaching and player development. At the NHL level, the goalies are mostly past the learning stage, so the coach’s role has more to do with keeping goalies sharp during a long NHL season and helping with the mental part of the game. In addition, Brind’Amour had 2018-19 goalie coach Mike Bales making the call on who started. He was phenomenal in this role, so the question is whether Muzzatti can similarly have a feel for how to get the most out of the NHL duo.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on the Don Waddell re-signing?
2) What are your thoughts on goalie coach Jason Muzzatti?
3) Since it should be out when most see this article, what are your thoughts on the team’s new road jersey?