With fans desperately wanting to find reasons to lean optimistic and the 4-o start to preseason to say that the early read on Rod Brind’Amour as a head coach has been positive would be a massive understatement. I offered an optimistic article entitled “In Rod We Trust” shortly after he was named head coach. His 2018-19 assessment period does not officially even begin until next Thursday, but we do have enough to at least offer first impressions.
The level of effort
Coaches making comments to the effect of wanting to outwork the opponent, be the hardest working team in the league, etc., etc. tend to get a rise from fans sometimes but mostly be meaningless comments. It is not as if a team has ever said that it was prioritizing something else over work ethic. But that is not to say that there is something to work ethic or that the quality cannot have a huge impact. It is just to say that talking about it counts for absolutely nothing. But that said, I think there are a couple early indications that the 2018-19 Hurricanes could actually back up the words. First, what has impressed me about the Hurricanes effort level is the sheer consistency. The team has pretty much outplayed everyone and done so over the majority of each game. Time will tell if removing hungry young AHLers from the mix will change things or if the higher level required for regular season games will also be met, but in terms of doing all that it can, the team has thus far.
Transparency and honesty with players
One of the subtle but significant things that has stood out to me thus far with Brind’Amour is his combination of relative transparency, candor and respectfulness with players. When asked about Sebastian Aho’s play through a couple of preseason games, Brind’Amour pretty bluntly said that he had not played well thus far. What stood out was not the message but the delivery. Brind’Amour mentioned it matter of factly and did not blow it out of proportion. And he also seemed to have a nice knack for doing so in a respectful way that did not chuck Aho under the bus or make it into a bigger thing than it needed to be. By no means is a single, small situation in preseason worthy of drawing a final conclusion, but the first impression does matter. Similar situations could be more difficult when the team hits a fit or two of adversity, so it will be interesting to see if Brind’Amour’s approach transpires adversity when he encounters it.
The Peter Laviolette swagger and attitude
Those who followed the team during the glory days of 2005-06 often recall a certain swagger or attitude around that team. Even early on when the team was expected to be a bottom dweller, Head Coach Peter Laviolette had an air about him that was different than anything else in team history. The attitude started with Laviolette and traced through the roster.
If preseason is any indication, Brind’Amour may be successfully instilling that same mentality in his team. The real test lies ahead in the regular season, but my feeling is that that vibe could return to PNC Arena under Brind’Amour.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you think preseason is really just too early to assess much of anything related to Brind’Amour’s coaching?
2) What are you first impressions of Brind’Amour as a head coach?