Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour (left), Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and TSN sportscaster Kyle Baukauskas conduct a question-and-answer session at Saturday’s banquet and auction at the Campbell River Sportsplex as part of the Brind’Amour/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Cystic Fibrosis Golf Classic. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

Brind’Amour and Nugent-Hopkins dish on Vegas, coaching and toughest goalies

Recently-appointed Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour jokingly said first-year expansion team Las Vegas Golden Knights’ surprise run to the Stanley Cup finals was not a good thing because it puts him under a lot of pressure with his new, inexperienced team owner.

“No one picked Vegas to (make the finals),” Brind’Amour said during a question-and-answer session in last Saturday’s Rod Brind’Amour/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Cystic Fibrosis Golf Classic dinner and auction at the Campbell River Sportsplex. “And now I’ve got a new owner and he thinks ‘Vegas can do it you, you’re going to able to do it.’

“So, it’s a little more pressure than I need at the start.”

Brind’Amour was speaking at a new component of the annual fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis research in which Brind’Amour and his co-host of the event, Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, sat down with TSN sportscaster Kyle Bukauskus for a wide-ranging Q&A. Both Brind’Amour and Bukauskus are from Campbell River.

The first question was about Vegas’ success in its first year of operation and whether that was a good thing for the league. Nugent-Hopkins’ answer addressed the wider picture.

“It does show the amount of parity there is in the league,” Nugent-Hopkins said, “how many good teams and good hockey players there are in the league.”

Nugent-Hopkins added that it was amazing to him that they just kept on going . They played the same way every night with four lines that all played the same way and they were players that were probably motivated because they had been let go by their teams.

“So those guys wanted it really bad,” Nugent-Hopkins said.

Brind’Amour, a former captain who lead the Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup victory and was named head coach last month, touched on the quality of player as well saying Vegas got the eighth best player from every team (in the expansion draft) – maybe even better – and added to that a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender (Marc André Fleury) and a high draft pick in Cody Glass “who was a monster,” Brind’Amour said.

So, after all joking aside, Brind’Amour agreed it was a good thing for the league to see Vegas have the success it did because in the past, expansion teams were almost always doomed to failure for their first few years.

“The worst thing (the NHL) ever did with expansion is make teams suffer for 10 years,” Brind’Amour said.

Brind’Amour was next asked how he would adapt to being a head coach.

“Well, it remains to be seen, I guess,” he said.

Brind’Amour again joked about how in the past at the annual golf classic, nobody was saying “good luck next year” but for some reason now that he’s head coach, everyone last weekend had been wishing him “good luck.”

“I’m thinking maybe everybody thinks I need it,” he said.

After seven years as an assistant coach, Brind’Amour said, not much changes in becoming head coach. It’s the same amount of work, the same amount of time and preparation.

What is different, Brind’Amour said, is that as head coach, you’re now on the hot seat.

“But on the flip side, as an assistant, you’re not in charge of really anything. You’re kind of listening to what someone’s telling you to do and you’re sending his message. “

Consequently, Brind’Amour is excited to see if he can take everything he’s learned from his life and hockey career and get a team to play the way he wants them to play.

Both Brind’Amour and Nugent-Hopkins were asked who was the toughest goaltender they ever faced.

For Nugent-Hopkins, it was Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.

“There’s something about him,” he said. “I think I have had about five breakaways on him – I don’t usually get a lot of breakaways (and Rinne stoned him on every one).

“Hopefully he can get out of our conference so I don’t have to play him as much.”

For Brind’Amour, it was a no-brainer – Dominik Hasek. Brind’Amour called him “the best goalie that ever played, bar none.”

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Rec users are not entitled to access to range

DND land is excluded from local control, says letter writer

Foot ferry service in Nanaimo won’t happen this summer

Island Ferries says it still needs to secure funding

Goalie gear found in Nanaimo

Nanaimo Mounties want to return goalie gear to owner

Thieves steal tents meant for Nanaimo school’s Grade 7 camping trip

Businesses, staff and parents ensure trip goes on

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Strengthening privacy laws should be an election issue

In other places, political parties are held to the highest standards of openness, says letter writer

Timbermen beat league’s first-place team

Nanaimo’s senior A lacrosse team handles Maple Ridge Burrards 11-6

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Suggested street names bizarre

Letter writer would be mortified to live on any of Lantzville councillor’s bizarrely named streets

Complex with more than 200 apartments pitched for Nanaimo’s south end

Construction planned for next spring on Junction Avenue in Chase River

Nanaimo teachers’ union president worries new deal could see job losses

Teachers’ federation and Ministry of Education negotiating with contract expiring at month’s end

Historian recalls Nanaimo’s drunken disorder back in 1890

Imagine the seamen’s surprise when they found themselves inside a brewery, writes columnist

WITH VIDEO: Two endangered marmots released on Vancouver Island

With three new pups born in May, two more Vancouver Island Marmots… Continue reading

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Most Read