The World Cup of Hockey has already been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Hurricanes fans months before it even starts. Initially, adding another international tourney to the TV slate was interesting. Then things took a very quick turn for the worse when Justin Faulk was snubbed and left off the Team USA roster.
The tourney now sees only 3 Carolina Hurricanes participating. Coach Bill Peters will be part of Canada’s coaching staff, and Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen will play for Finland.
If it was possible to exempt only 3 people from each organization to maximize preparation for the 2016-17 NHL season, I think this is exactly the list of Hurricanes personnel that I would choose to make exempt.
I would not want to deprive them of their chance to participate, but the more I think of it, the more I wish none of the 3 were part of it.
Bill Peters: For the 2015-16 season, Hurricanes Coach Bill Peters struggled deep into the season to settle on line combinations that worked. Once he found a working combination, the team was great. But that was early December, and by then the hole was dug and the season mostly lost already. Surely Bill Peters will have a hand in what goes on in September in Raleigh and will be in regular communication with the coaching staff, but I would much prefer that he be a daily part of the tinkering with the lineup in September.
Sebastian Aho: As a 19-year old rookie, I would greatly prefer that he have a full training camp. He was not signed and did not participate in the NHL training camp last summer, so his first run in the Hurricanes system in a practice could be as late as October 2 (day after World Cup ends) giving him only an 11-day crash course in Hurricanes hockey before the season opener on October 13. I also wonder if the whirlwind of travel could be disorienting for a player his age.
His schedule: Aho’s schedule will look something like this (roughly with estimates for some dates not knowing exact schedule):
September 1-10 with Finnish team and traveling some to Sweden for practice and exhibition games.
September 11-14 travel to North America and spend 4-5 days in Washington, DC for couple exhibition games.
September 15-October 1 play World Cup in Canada.
October 2-5 join Hurricanes for 3 road preseason games.
October 6-12 finally arrive in Raleigh and set up new home.
October 13-25 depart for 6-game road trip to start the season.
Just thinking about it makes me tired and ready for a nap that lasts most of November. Aho played professionally last season and has been part of international tourney teams for multiple years now, so the basics of traveling and playing hockey are not new to him. But the extreme version of this non-stop for 2 months straight when he is also adjusting to the NHL does concern me.
He will get some real (more so than preseason) games on an NHL-sized ice surface against good competition which is a positive. And if he plays with Teravainen (possible but not assured), he will at least be building chemistry with 1 of his likely Hurricanes line mates. There are positives, but I would still prefer that he have a full training camp to learn the Hurricanes system and work with the rest of the roster for longer.
Teuvo Teravainen: Teravainen gets the same travel schedule as Aho which might be a little less of a concern for a player who is a couple years deep in NHL experience. That said, perhaps the biggest unknown on the Hurricanes roster is if, how well and in what form the penciled in Aho/Lindholm/Teravainen line plays. The line includes an NHL rookie and 2 players new to the Hurricanes system. It also includes some sorting out for positions with Lindholm and/or Teravainen needing to adjust back to the center position after playing more wing in the last 2 seasons. These situations of role and chemistry can take some time to sort out. If Aho and Teravainen play together in the World Cup that could help, but otherwise time will be pretty short for them to figure it out in a quick burst of preseason games over about 10 days.
The Hurricanes are obviously not the only team impacted by the World Cup. In terms of volume of players, they have it easy. But the combination of people involved and the long road trip and need to get out of the starting gate much better than Peters’ first 2 seasons make for a precarious situation worth watching.