The Winds of Change Hit the HurricanesA lot has happened in RaleighWood with the Carolina Hurricanes over the past year. Caniacs were over the MOON late last year with the idea that some dude named Chuck Greenburg was seriously interested in finally buying our team from the curmudgeonly Peter Karmanos Jr. PK had previously won our team the Stanley Cup before firing all of his smart, hockey-minded adult sons who then sued him because he was using their inheritance to prop up the Hurricanes, and telling all of the fan to shut their yaps and be patient when it came to improving the team. Which he didn’t do.
So yeah, we were excited to have someone young, and passionate, very sports-minded, was probably gonna install a Lazy River in the PNC Arena, and damn we were so excited about having a new “dad!”
But Karmanos gonna Karmanos; and instead of patiently letting Chucky get together the money for the purchase, PK dogged him publicly to hurry up and then jacked the price up on him. If there was a local, low-budget horror film made about this, it would be titled, “Karmanos: The Hands of Fate.” Caniac Nation was livid at Karmanos for this act of selfish greed, but damned if he didn’t have ANOTHER buyer waiting the wings and we didn’t even know it!
Enter the Dragon Tom Dundon. Carolina exclaimed a collective “WHO?” before running to Google for info of what to expect. And there wasn’t much to say. All we could really figure out was that he made a metric butt-ton of money from a number of ventures, most notably for a sub-prime auto loan company and his only real financial connection to sports was being part owner to an indoor driving range franchise called Top Golf. Ok, so no Lazy River in PNC…we get a Putt-Putt? Still, he had enough money to call Peter Karmanos his Lil’ Bitch and got him out of the driver seat, so the guy was already our First Star for the month of December. In the half a year since, we’ve learned a lot about him and he is learning a lot about hockey.
At this point, Elliot Freedman and the rest of the Canadian Press are increasingly tired of talking about him and this franchise since it doesn’t involve the words “Hurricanes moving to Bumble-Fart Nowhere, Ontario.” Tommy D. wanted to improve relations with fans and get butts in seats — something Karmanos didn’t gave a damn about unless those people had season tickets — by trying some interesting and bold new ideas like moving everyone downstairs to improve the atmosphere and also pissing off all the season ticket holders who pay too much for their tickets anyway. But, they don’t bother to cheer anyway, so f*** ‘em.
Also, $5 beer!
One of the first quotable things Tom said was that he had “more money that patience,“ and this was evidently true when he ran out of patience with the inactivity of GM and living “this-is-fine” meme Ron Francis, effectively grabbing him in his office chair, rolling him down the hall, into a broom closet labeled “Vice President of Hockey Whogivesadamn.” This was the same Ron Francis who talked Dundon out of firing head coach and drinkable water enthusiast Bill Peters, which turned out to be great advice since he ended up resigning, saving the new owner a cool $1.6 million.
Yaaaasssss! Now we can afford that fourth-line right winger that will put us over the top! But Dundon wasn’t done with Ron yet. After a little while, the Carolina Brass said they needed his office/closet to store bags of stale popcorn that hadn’t been eaten this year, but would be sold next fall, so Francis needed to go work from home. For a about a week. Before they fired his ass for not getting the hint.
Pretty much everything Tom has done so far has been unorthodox , and after a long season of no one bothering to do anything, it’s refreshing to see someone do something. I might be dying of thirst, and you might be holding a glass of pig urine. But if it’s a COLD glass of hog water, and you’re NOT telling me to be patient, then you’re my best buddy right now. We’ll talk about why you’re standing there with cold pig piss in a glass later. Weirdo. The point is that change is good after a lengthy stagnation, even if its change you didn’t see coming.
The dude even dropped by our tailgate in the freezing rain at the last game to say “Hey Girl” and thank us for sticking with it. So we made memes of him:
Trying to sum up everything that’s happened in the past couple months has been head-spinning. Tommy Boy got Don “U-Haul” Waddell to hire a buddy of this from his Thrashers days named Rick Dudley to sit in Ron Francis still-warm Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations chair. Again, a frazzled Caniac Nation lets out an exasperated “WHO?” But after finding out that he’s put a few albums, can probably bench press Rod Brind’amour bench pressing a cow, and has the history of showing more emotion than Francis and Peters together at a midnight screening of “Steel Magnolias,” we were all like, “Cool.” But he’s still not our GM or a Head Coach and the team is running out of time.
Waddell, who time and time again publicly claims he doesn’t want the GM job, at least went to the Draft lottery wearing his lucky turtleneck and lands the second overall pick. From Calgary, Bill Peters — who was hired as Head Coach of the Flames three days after resigning from Carolina — could be heard muttering an expletive that would have made some southern dandies faint should he have still been in NC.
Next, Dundon announces that bovine-bench presser Rod Brind’amour would be the new bench boss! Rejoice Canes Fans; even though he’s got no head coaching experience and Tom is clearly paying him far less than any other coach in the league to which literally made him emanate the most evil laugh outside of a Disney villain ever.
Also, very, very, VERY quietly, it was also kinda sort of mentioned that Don Waddell is now the General Manager. Much less rejoicing.
In Tom Dundon’s vision, he doesn’t see himself running this team in a typical hockey fashion. He’s not a hockey guy, he’s a business guy; it’s what he understands and it’s what he’s been successful with. He’s hung around with other successful sports franchise owners who are also unorthodox in their methods, but that’s OK because they have found success and they have enough money to tell anyone to f*** off.
Dundon doesn’t want to micro manage this team, but rather have everyone’s voice heard when it comes to decisions, whether it be who to draft with the second-overall pick, or if we should tell Justin Faulk he’s been wearing his athletic supporter backwards this whole season. At that table will not only be Dundon and Waddell, but Dudley, Brind’amour, and analytic genus Eric Tulsky. They will be GMing by committee, or forming GM Voltron, as a lot of us have taken to saying.
Right now, all Hurricanes fans want a winner. Thankfully, we are reminded that Tom says, “I have more money than patience.” We’ll have to wait and see what that buys us.
Jim Howard is a Carolina Hurricanes fan and reformed baseball card collector who is trying to keep the hockey collection from becoming overwhelming. And while he wishes he could give Crosby the business with his mitt, he is in fact NOT the goalie for the Red Wings. ■