The National Football League is famous for having coaching staffs that consistently produce head coaches for other teams via their coordinators. Bill Parcells gave the world Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick; and Belichick gave the world Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniel. So it doesn’t always work.
Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings is becoming that kind of coach. He previously saw assistant coaches Todd McLellan (San Jose) and Paul MacLean (Ottawa) leave for head coaching jobs with teams desperately hoping they’d bring some of that Motor City magic with them. Now another assistant has found a head coaching gig with the same expectations.
"Mike Babcock would be one, if not the premiere coach, in the NHL. He's learned a lot of things and we're hoping he can apply them to our organization," said GM Ron Francis on WRAL on Thursday.
The Carolina Hurricanes have named Bill Peters, who worked under Babcock for the last three seasons, as the 13th head coach in franchise history and the first hired by someone other than Jim Rutherford.
(Incidentally, Peters was rumored to be coveted by Rutherford and the Penguins before Ron Francis signed him in Carolina.)
From the Canes on their new coach:
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that Bill Peters has been named the team’s head coach. Peters will be the 13th man to serve as head coach for the franchise, and the fourth since the team’s arrival in North Carolina. Francis will introduce Peters during a news conference on Friday at noon in PNC Arena’s Varsity Club, which will stream live on CarolinaHurricanes.com.
Peters, 48, has served as assistant coach for the Detroit Red Wings for the past three seasons, working primarily with Detroit’s defensemen and penalty kill units. Prior to joining Detroit’s staff, Peters served as head coach of Rockford of the American Hockey League (AHL), guiding the Ice Hogs to consecutive 40-win seasons and Calder Cup playoff appearances in 2008-09 and 2009-10. In his final season with Rockford in 2010-11, Peters directed the second-youngest team in the AHL to a 38-33-4-5 record. The Three Hills, Alb., native helped 28 Rockford players reach the NHL during his three seasons. Eight players who played under Peters for Rockford went on to win the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010 or 2013 – Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Henry, Antti Niemi, Corey Crawford, Bryan Bickell, Nick Leddy, Brandon Bollig and Ben Smith.
Before beginning his AHL coaching career, Peters spent three seasons with Spokane of the Western Hockey League (WHL), leading the Chiefs to the Memorial Cup title in 2008 as champions of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). Spokane established franchise records with 50 wins and 107 points that season before winning 16 of 21 WHL playoff games to capture the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions. Peters then guided the Chiefs to four consecutive victories at the Memorial Cup, topping the host Kitchener Rangers 4-1 in the championship game. In three seasons as Spokane’s head coach, Peters compiled a career WHL regular-season record of 111-82-23.
Peters got his first experience as a head coach at the University of Lethbridge, serving as the Proghorns’ head coach for three seasons from 2002-2005. Prior to that, he served as assistant coach for Spokane for four seasons, helping the Chiefs to a 47-win, 100-point campaign and the WHL Western Conference championship in 1999-00 under current Red Wings’ head coach Mike Babcock.
The scuttlebutt around the NHL, including at the Stanley Cup Final, was that Peters wasn’t thought to be a good fit for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Let’s face it: That’s a win-now environment (ask Shero and Bylsma) that’s as much about managing star players as it is managing line changes.
Carolina is a much better fit. It’s a place to grow for an assistant coach that will bring some cache to the room as a Red Wings assistant but that still needs a little seasoning.
We’ll say this: Francis wasn’t kidding about defense being a priority. His three main targets – Peters, Los Angeles Kings assistant coach John Stevens, for whom he didn’t get permission to speak, and New York Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson – all worked with their respective blue-liners with great success. This is only a good thing for Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy and other younger defensemen.
Now, can Peters bring some Hockeytown success to the Tar Heel State?