The Carolina Hurricanes have found their man, announcing Bill Peters as their new head coach on Thursday, with a formal introduction set for Friday.
Peters becomes the fourth head coach in Hurricanes history, and he replaces Kirk Muller, who was fired after three-plus seasons behind the Carolina bench, including a seventh-place finish in the Metropolitan Division last season.
The 48-year-old Bill Peters comes to Carolina after serving as an assistant coach for the Detroit Red Wings. He has also been a head coach at different levels, including a Memorial Cup win in 2008 with the Spokane Chiefs (backstopped by Dustin Tokarski).
In addition, he spent three seasons as the head coach of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, as well as three seasons at the helm of the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, where he helped develop players like Antti Niemi and Niklas Hjalmarsson into NHL players, among many others.
Bill Peters represents the first hire since Ron Francis became the team’s general manager in April.
The announcement comes off the heels of reports that the Hurricanes were looking to speak to Los Angeles Kings assistant coach John Stevens, along with New York Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson, about the vacancy.
Since winning the Stanley Cup in the 2005-06 season, the Hurricanes have struggled, making the playoffs just once in the following eight seasons, and not getting there at all in the last five seasons.
It will be interesting to see what kind of team Peters puts out on the ice. He’s part of the Mike Babcock coaching tree, so he’ll likely demand accountability at both ends of the ice.
Carolina has some offensive firepower with names like Eric and Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, and Alexander Semin. However, Francis could opt to go for some defensive-minded forwards either via free agency or trade, as the Hurricanes have $52.7 million in salary cap space committed to 14 players.
The Hurricanes may also be in the market for another defenceman in case Ron Hainsey leaves as an unrestricted free agent.
Regardless of how things go, the Hurricanes may be in for yet another long season.