NHL

Are the Hurricanes, coach Rod Brind’Amour at a contract impasse? Here’s what we know

Are the Hurricanes, coach Rod Brind’Amour at a contract impasse? Here’s what we know

With nine potential unrestricted free agents this summer, including longtime stalwarts like Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei, Jordan Martinook and Teuvo Teravainen, these playoffs were always going to have a bit of a “last dance” feel for the Carolina Hurricanes, at least for a big chunk of the current group.

With an extension to head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s contract still not concluded, that sense is growing, especially when there were rumblings a deal was all but completed near the end of the regular season, only for negotiations to apparently reach an impasse and stall.

As the Hurricanes wait for their second-round series against the New York Rangers to begin, Brind’Amour’s name is increasingly being mentioned in connection to openings elsewhere. Confidants say he has become unsure about his future in Carolina, according to sources familiar with those conversations.

“I think it’s all but done,” Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon said in a telephone interview with the News & Observer. “(General manager) Don (Waddell) and him are working on it. I don’t think there’s anything there. We’re in the playoffs and they haven’t focused on it. They’re doing it together. I said OK to almost everything they’ve asked me for. They’re just getting through the last little stuff.”

Waddell declined to comment.

“It’s in Tom’s hands,” Brind’Amour said in a text message to the N&O.

Majority owner Tom Dundon, left, looks on as Don Waddell speaks to reporters after it was announced he would be the team’s new general manager, a position he has held in the interim since Ron Francis’ departure several weeks ago, during a press conference held at PNC Arena in Raleigh on May 9, 2018. It was also announced that former star player and assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour would be the team’s new head coach.

With Tuesday’s 6-3 win over the New York Islanders to claim a 4-1 series win, the Hurricanes became the first NHL team to win a playoff round in six straight seasons since the Detroit Red Wings from 1995-2000. (That includes the preliminary-round win over the New York Rangers in the 2020 bubble.)

Those are the six seasons since Brind’Amour took over in the summer of 2018 and ended a decade-long playoff drought that dated back to his time as the team’s captain. They have advanced as far as the conference finals twice but were swept both times — by the Boston Bruins in 2019 and the Florida Panthers last spring. He won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year in 2021.

Were Brind’Amour to hit the open market, he would be one of the most sought-after candidates for any opening. There were already rumors Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis is preparing a big-money offer for his former teammate immediately after after firing head coach Dave Hakstol on Monday.

Head coach Dave Hakstol of the Seattle Kraken looks on during the second period against the New York Islanders at Climate Pledge Arena on Nov. 16, 2023, in Seattle, Washington. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images/TNS)

Brind’Amour would also be a natural fit for an underachieving, deep-pocketed team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, who could part ways with Sheldon Keefe if they suffer a seventh opening-round elimination in eight years. (Again, including the 2020 preliminary round.) Brind’Amour’s availability might also pique the interest of other teams that have coaches under contract, like the Philadelphia Flyers or Vancouver Canucks, where he has personal connections.

While those franchises (or others) may be willing to offer more money, Brind’Amour may not be able to obtain the input into personnel decisions he has had in Carolina and would have to uproot his family after living here for 24 years. His 12-year-old son Brooks has played for the Junior Hurricanes program with, among others, Jagger Burns and Jade Williams, the son of Brent and daughter of Justin respectively, and his son Skyler spent this season nearby for the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL in the Florida Panthers organization.

After starting out as one of the NHL’s lowest-paid coaches in 2018, Brind’Amour signed a three-year extension in June 2021 after the Hurricanes’ third straight playoff appearance, but only after securing raises for his staff. Even so, Dean Chynoweth left a month later to join the Maple Leafs and become one of the NHL’s highest-paid assistants and was replaced by Tim Gleason, who remains on the staff along with Jeff Daniels.

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