Carolina Hurricanes: Tom Dundon Continues to Upset the NHL

RALEIGH, NC - FEBRUARY 19: Tom Dundon, left, owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, speaks to media before an NHL game against the New York Rangers on February 19, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Karl DeBlaker/NHLI via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - FEBRUARY 19: Tom Dundon, left, owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, speaks to media before an NHL game against the New York Rangers on February 19, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Karl DeBlaker/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Tom Dundon has been the majority owner of the Carolina Hurricanes for almost two years now. Yet he continues to surprise and upset the balance of the Status Quo of the NHL.

With Tom Dundon at the helm, the Carolina Hurricanes have accomplished more in the last 18 months than the previous decade put together. Its easy to dismiss these accomplishments as a simple trip to the Eastern Conference Finals that ended in a sweep to a better team. Not much unlike the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But there is much more to it than that.

For the first time in a long time the Carolina Hurricanes have been relevant. Relevant enough to force video game producers to make a unique change in the next NHL game specifically for them. Relevant enough to attract one of the best available Free Agents on the market this off season. Relevant enough to draw attention from every corner of the league and beyond.

Naturally, not all of that attention is good. A “non-traditional” market hockey team becoming relevant is a terrifying thing for the gate-keepers of the sport. Those whom believe that the sport of hockey belongs to them insist that anyone else who enjoys the sport who do not match their description must be a pretender or a band-wagoner.

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That includes Montreal and their half-baked attempt to offer sheet the Carolina Hurricanes’ star player, Sebastian Aho to a contract. A contract that was created based on an idea that Tom Dundon was cheap. A fabrication that seems to grow and fester with time. Even local Carolina media is eating it up and questioning Tom Dundon’s resolve to the team and staff.

But time and time again Tom is showing that his style, which has ruffled virtually every feather of traditional hockey, is the style of the future. Time and time again Tom has shown that he is going to stress the rules of the established system and in the process make it better. The latest example of this is how the GM position was handled. Or more accurately

Don Waddell, performing GM of the Carolina Hurricanes, was allowed to interview for the vacant GM position with the Minnesota Wild. The person working, without a contract, for the Carolina Hurricanes, was allowed to interview for another team. A finalist for GM of the year wasn’t immediately locked down and now might be joining another team.

The league was shook. Hockey media struggled to comprehend it. Some members of the Carolina media even went as far as saying that Tom couldn’t give Waddell a reason to stay. Why else would Waddell accept an interview with another team? Was Waddell going to be yet another staff member to walk along with Velluci and Bales?

But that didn’t last long, did it? Within a week, Don Waddell was locked in with a multi-year contract. So what was the whole deal with the interview? Simply put, Tom Dundon is shaking the system to allow it to move forward. What do I mean by that? Well it starts with what these contracts are and why they are even needed.

The contract is the salary and benefits owed to the staff member for a set amount of years for their services in a position. For the players, that makes sense. The contract basically guarantees their loyalty to the team and their best efforts to win. But does it make sense for staff members like coaches and general managers?

Dundon argues not. After all, in the business world, virtually no corporate positions work under a contract. A GM is basically a corporate position, isn’t it? Dundon believes that people should be allowed to get the best deal possible. That means, knowing what is out there and being able to negotiate their salary. In the business world, a contract isn’t needed for this.

But this isn’t the business world. So Tom Dundon forced the system to work for him. By not putting Waddell under contract throughout the summer, and allowing him to interview with other teams and find out what their offers would be to Waddell, he is now able to compete with the other teams in a frame he understands.

As much as Dundon wanted Waddell to work like a normal corporate employee, the rules of the NHL dictate that each team must have a GM under contract before the beginning of next month. So it wasn’t like Tom Dundon wasn’t going to sign Waddell. But he wasn’t going to chain the man who is supposed to be entrusted with creating the team that brings in the profit either.

The Carolina Hurricanes were always going to have Don Waddell as the GM this upcoming season. It was made clear by both Waddell and Dundon a while back. But every time Dundon upsets the balance of the NHL, everyone loses their minds and tries to paint him as a cheap, stingy, shrilling businessman.

Dundon and the Carolina Hurricanes are dragging the league into the future.  Just wish they would stop kicking and screaming along the way like a child refusing to eat their broccoli not understanding why they need the nutrients.

Wadell Signs Multi-Year Contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. light. Related Story

In the end, had Waddell never went to be interviewed by the Wild, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. If Waddell had defected to the wild, we would be having a completely different article about Tom Dundon. But the interview did happen and within days, Waddell had a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. Perhaps its time to credit Dundon.