It’s part of the sell of small-market teams: That they’re different. Maybe even better. That they care more about the community and their fans than big-market teams do.
This has been a part of the Hurricanes brand as long as I’ve been around the team. Maybe they weren’t ever going to draw the biggest free agents, and maybe they wouldn’t pay all of their employees market value, and maybe people would call them “cheap” — and maybe often they even would be.
But the tradeoff, as one former Hurricanes employee told me years ago while still with the team, was “knowing you were a part of something you helped build and that you believe in.”
And don’t get me wrong: There are so many good people who work for the Hurricanes right now and who believe in what the team is building and selling.
Those people had nothing to do with the team’s signing of Tony DeAngelo to a one-year, $1 million contract Wednesday. In fact, these lower-level employees’ lives and the brand they have built are about to become significantly harder because of this.
Everything will, including press conferences.
The Hurricanes on Wednesday uprooted the majority of a roster that last season finished third in the NHL in points and was pretty promising on paper heading into 2021-22, as well. There are two new goalies. Dougie Hamilton is officially gone. And there are at least four new skaters signed to deals.
And yet, more than 17 minutes of the 18:28 that general manager and team president Don Waddell spent addressing the media after all the moves were spent on one specific one-year, $1 million deal: the signing of DeAngelo.
That’s a choice the Hurricanes made.