Hurricanes remain confident in keeping Rod Brind’Amour despite reports: ‘We’re gonna get it done’

RALEIGH, N.C. — Don Waddell, president and general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, told The Athletic on Wednesday that he remains confident he’ll be able to come to a contract agreement in short order with longtime coach Rod Brind’Amour, whose deal expires July 1.

Waddell is well aware that Brind’Amour, whose team advanced to the second round once again with a series-ending win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday, would be highly sought after if the negotiations to retain him reached the summertime.

“We’re gonna get it done.,” Waddell reiterated. “I’m not worried about it. He wants to be a Hurricane for life.”

There’s no doubt it’s a dangerous game to play the longer this drags out with Brind’Amour unsigned, especially with several teams looking for coaches: the Seattle Kraken, St. Louis Blues, New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks. There’s a possibility that Sheldon Keefe could be in trouble in Toronto, too, if the Maple Leafs don’t get past the Boston Bruins in the first round. There’s also a handful of other teams, like the Columbus Blue Jackets once they hire a GM, and perhaps even the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are evaluating their staff.

Rumors have circulated that Seattle would be interested in Brind’Amour because of his history with former teammate and current Kraken GM Ron Francis. And Toronto could break the bank if Brind’Amour is on the open market.

Asked if this creates more urgency, even in the postseason, Waddell told The Athletic, “If I reacted to everything the media said and did, I wouldn’t be able to run a team. I mean, Rod and I talked today. I don’t ever bother him on game days, and he doesn’t want to be ever bothered on game days. He wants to try to win the hockey game. But we talked today, and I think we’re in a good place and we’ll get it done.”

TSN insider Darren Dreger, meanwhile, tweeted Wednesday afternoon that “recently, a deal seemed close, but it’s believed the offer to extend the highly respected coach has been pulled. Sources said Brind’Amour wants to stay, but may have to test the market if an agreement can’t be reached.”

Luke DeCock, the longtime columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer, also reported Wednesday that “Confidants say (Brind’Amour) has become unsure about his future in Carolina.”

Owner Tom Dundon told DeCock on Tuesday, “I think it’s all but done. Don 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.”

Regardless, Waddell doesn’t want to lose the 2021 Jack Adams Award winner and said he doesn’t plan to.

On Tuesday night, Brind’Amour led the Hurricanes to its sixth straight season with at least one postseason series win (including the 2020 qualifying round in the Toronto bubble), joining Pat Burns (Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens from 1988 to ’94) as the second coach in league history to accomplish that feat.

Brind’Amour has won eight playoff series with the Hurricanes, helping them advance to the conference final in 2019 and 2023.

“He’d never ask a player to do something that he didn’t do himself,” Waddell told The Athletic. “He demands hard work. Our players have to be, I’d bet, one of the better physically fit teams in the league because of the way he addresses it. The one thing as a GM, I don’t have to worry about what Rod’s ever doing with the team because I know anything he does is well thought out and is going to put us in the best position for success.”

Brind’Amour isn’t the only pressing matter Waddell will deal with this offseason.

The Hurricanes have to re-sign pending restricted free agents Seth Jarvis and Martin Necas and have several high-profile players marked for unrestricted free agency, including Jake Guentzel, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei, Teuvo Teravainen, Stefan Noesen, Jordan Martinook, Jalen Chatfield and Tony DeAngelo.

“Yeah, I lose sleep over it some nights because we have something good going here, and we’d like to keep it going,” Waddell said. “But there’s this thing called the salary cap that we have to make sure it all fits.

“We have some of our RFAs like Jarvis and Marty Necas that we certainly are going to keep. And then you try to say, ‘OK, where’s the rest of the money going to be spent?’ We’ve had discussions with all the agents, and we have a pretty good idea what everybody’s thinking.”

Waddell said there’s no urgency to sign anybody in the middle of a playoff run, but after the season, he will want to make significant progress with Jarvis and Necas to see how he can afford some of his important unrestricted free agents.

“All the agents, I’m sure, are tired of talking to me,” he said. “They know where we’re at, and we know where they’re at. Hopefully, at some point, we’ll get the ones we need to keep signed.”

Waddell said he spoke with Guentzel’s agent, Ben Hankinson, at the time of the trade from Pittsburgh about putting talks on hold to ensure there’s a mutual interest in him staying, “and then our focus is we’ve got a lot of unrestricted guys on defense and that’s been the stronghold of our team. So we want to make sure we do the right thing there.”

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(Photo: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images)

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