Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon establishing new identity for the team

ByEmily Kaplan ESPN logo
Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Carolina Hurricanes are out of the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season -- the longest drought in the NHL. They are without a coach (Bill Peters resigned, and he quickly found a new home in Calgary) and general manager (Ron Francis was transitioned upstairs in March).

They averaged just 13,320 fans per home game this season, the third-lowest figure in the league. That's 82.6 percent capacity for PNC Arena -- which ranks as the lowest mark in the NHL.

So who is the man tasked with fixing all of this? That's Tom Dundon, the new owner who bought a majority stake in the franchise from Peter Karmanos Jr. in January. Dundon has been a front-facing figure in his first three-plus months on the job -- and has been hands-on, as well. To wit, Dundon sat in on player exit interviews after the season, which is quite uncommon for NHL owners.

Dundon joined Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan on the latest episode of ESPN on Ice for a wide-ranging interview. Here are a few highlights. Be sure to subscribe to ESPN on Ice for more:

On being a vocal owner:"I've heard that new owners don't say much initially -- and not sure that's going to work for me."

On rumors that the Hurricanes have been lowballing GM and coaching candidates:"If I thought that the money and the talent are one-to-one correlated, then I would spend the money. But I believe we can fit really talented people within our budget, and me looking at other people's determination of the market, in paying people -- it's not something I would ever do.

"If I can't find the person who is undervalued and give them the chance at a price I think is fair, and give them a chance to build their market value and build the team, then I might move to a different plan. But I do think it would be surprising if there were only 30 people in the world who could do these jobs. We're looking for the talent, not the résumé."

On the status of the searches:"It's probably the biggest misconception that I've seen that GMs or coaches don't want to work for us. ... It really hasn't been what I've seen reported in terms of the amount of interest in these jobs. It's probably the opposite. The hardest part is picking the right person; it's not getting the right candidates."

On sitting in with exit interviews with players:"Until you said it, I didn't know that there was backlash.

"It felt like the right decision. And right now, this organization desperately needs a new attitude and a new way of doing things. I can't know what that should be if I don't understand what the players think, the coaches think, the scouts think, the fans think. This isn't that hard. I have to acquire the information. It's not my ideal use of my time to spend two days in meetings. If I thought that wasn't of value, I wouldn't do it."

On fan support:"In a nontraditional market, you don't necessarily have the luxury of having as much support as you'd like through the good and bad times. So that's the main thing: [Fans] want to support the team, but they need a reason."