After returning to the NHL playoffs in 2001, Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford made a few lineup changes that paid huge dividends for the team and their fans.
This is the fifth installment in my Rewind series, taking a look back at past Carolina Hurricanes’ seasons. To check out my prior articles, click a season:
Despite a return to the postseason, the 2000-01 Carolina Hurricanes took a step back in both goals for and goals against. With apparent faith in his offense, Rutherford’s first offseason move was to add toughness. To do this, he flipped a 2001 5th round pick to the Colorado Avalanche in return for enforcer Chris Dingman.
Turning his attention to the defense, Rutherford sent a second-round pick in the 2002 draft to the Detroit Red Wings for veteran defenseman Aaron Ward. Ward, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with Detroit, brought leadership and toughness to a Hurricanes’ blueline that was in need of both.
The summer also saw a handful of players leave the organization. Rob DiMaio signed with the Dallas Stars. Dave Karpa headed to the New York Rangers. Scott Pellerin joined the Boston Bruins. While none of these players were cornerstones for the team, the losses did chip a little away from the team’s depth.
The other key that Rutherford set out to address before training camp was to bring in a veteran goalie to backup Arturs Irbe. Tyler Moss, the previous backup, was not brought back after posting subpar stats across the board (1-6-0; 3.99 GAA; .853 SV%), leaving Rutherford to scour the free-agent market. He found a match in Tom Barrasso. The two-time Cup champ was coming off of a down year split between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators.
The Hurricanes treaded water early, closing out October with a 5-2 loss to the Red Wings that dropped their record to 6-5-0-2. Things stayed much the same through November, where Carolina suffered a four-game skid that carried into December. Feeling the need to shake things up, Rutherford swung a deal with the St. Louis Blues to bring Sean Hill back for his second stint with the Hurricanes.
The team responded by winning seven out of their next ten games and entering into 2002 with a 20-13-5-5 record. Unfortunately, January brought with it a five-game stretch in which the Hurricanes salvaged a single victory. With their up-and-down play continuing into March, Rutherford pulled the trigger on two more trades. These deals set the table for a 7-4-3 finish and a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Let’s take a look at those trades.