There will be a different look behind the bench and an altered dynamics for the Hurricanes — the staff under coach Kirk Muller has been tweaked.
The most significant change comes with the departure of goalies coach Tom Barrasso, with Greg Stefan returning to the organization in that role. Barrasso has taken a scouting assignment.
So Stefan will be back for games on a regular basis. He’s familiar with goalie Cam Ward from his previous stint with the organization, so that transition should be smooth.
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Another change comes for assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour, whose duties have expanded. His role this season didn’t include much travel with the team, so it was largely limited to practices. Now Brind’Amour is a full-time assistant, and that’s bound to create a different setup.
Cory Stillman is on board with the organization as director of forwards development, the role previously held by Brind’Amour. Stillman was a player with the Hurricanes and was acquired on two different occasions for his veteran influence. He retired before the 2011-12 season and worked for the Florida Panthers.
“He’s always had a mind for the game and is just a great hockey guy,” general manager Jim Rutherford said of Stillman.
What this means more than anything is that veteran players from the 2006 Stanley Cup championship team now hold vital instructional roles. That’s Brind’Amour, Stillman and Glen Wesley, who oversees development of defensemen. Plus, Stefan was the goalies coach during the Stanley Cup season, though most recently he had been a pro scout for the organization.
So there’s definitely a reconnection to the past, and that’s something the Hurricanes figure will bode well.
–The Hurricanes missed on signing goalie prospect Frederik Andersen, the organization’s eighth selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. So Andersen goes back into the pool for the 2012 draft. It was a disappointment for the Hurricanes, who made a strong effort through contract negotiations to sign Andersen.
General manager Jim Rutherford described Andersen as a goalie capable of competing for an NHL spot during training camp. Rutherford referenced that Andersen’s change of agent might have contributed to the snags in negotiation. “We are very disappointed that he chose not to join our organization,” Rutherford said.
With this development, it could impact the team’s draft plans this year as more goalie depth could become a priority.
–The Hurricanes have an off-ice change with the June retirement of Wally Tatomir, who had been the team’s equipment manager for 17 seasons with the franchise. That includes the organization’s entire time since relocating to North Carolina.
Tatomir became known as an innovator in the equipment business. His popularity with Hurricanes players couldn’t be underscored enough.
Assistant equipment manager Jorge Alves has been promoted to replace Tatomir.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“The fans have been great. The passion is there. They’re supporting the team. Now it’s our job to get a product out there that they want to come and watch. Hopefully we’ll get some more wins next season.” — Coach Kirk Muller, going through his first offseason as a head coach and understanding that the pressure to win is bound to increase.