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Golf Stories, PGA Tour, and more with Rick Reilly

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold
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June 3, 2022 3:52 pm

Golf Stories, PGA Tour, and more with Rick Reilly

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold

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June 3, 2022 3:52 pm

Writer and author Rick Reilly joined the show as his new book, "So Help Me Golf: Why We Love the Game," stories in the book, the current state of the PGA Tour and the LIV Tour.

Also, discussions about the Carolina Hurricanes as the team had their exit interviews.

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Visit us at This is the Adam Gold Show. Proud to be joined by Rick Riley in studio. Thank you very much. You're in town? You got Quail Ridge Books signing tonight? And funny you should say, I went to the bookstore, screwed up. I put your address in, or I put their address in to come to hear it. So I'm walking around the bookstore.

I don't see any damn radio stations. So thank you for letting me be late. No, that's alright.

We have, if nothing, we are flexible. The book is called So Help Me Golf. And I am a fan of literature about sports and there's a saying that the smaller the ball, the better the book.

Why is that? Is it true? I know you write a lot of books about golf, so I assume you think it is true. Why is it true? I don't know why it's true, but it used to be boxing, horse racing, golf was where the Damon Runyon's and the Grantland Rice, and then maybe baseball.

And they didn't care about basketball or football. I don't think it's true anymore at all. Really? Thank you though. I'll take it.

Look, some of my favorite books, like the stuff that I have read of yours, I've got friends who also write books. Well, I think golf lends itself to really good writing because it's just sitting there. It's not like somebody missed the block or the guy was throwing unhittable curves or anything like last night. The Celtics just got freaking hot. Warriors choked. The Celtics shot something ridiculous. 80% in the final quarter. But golf, it's just sitting there.

It's just you. There's a story in this book. This is 40 years of me saving up stories that I've always wanted to write and for some reason I couldn't write them. In 1977, there was a guy named Ricky Meisner, and he was a rabbit qualifier, and he'd try to qualify on Monday, and if he didn't, he'd have to go on to the next town. He ran out of money. Pretty soon he's camping and just trying to get by.

He's got a wife and two kids back home. Finally, he can't stand it anymore, but he doesn't want to give up on his golf dreams because that's really given up on yourself because it's just a one-man sport. He starts robbing banks in the town after he misses the cut. So Pensacola, Doral, Chicago, because he gets so mad, but he doesn't want to give up on his golf dreams. So he'd put on a wig, put on a fake mustache. Like Bobby Valentine. Then he put a fake license plate on his car, and it was a piece of crap car, and he robbed a bank.

That's how he kept playing on tour that year. He always told himself, if I ever make a nice check, I'll stop this. He had a fake gun, so he'd show the teller, don't cry. It's a fake gun.

There's no bullets in it. He'd make about $2,000 every bank stop. Finally, at the Tallahassee Open, 1977. Qualifies. Leads the first day. Shoots 66. Tallahassee, he's ahead of Nicholas Player, Hubie Green. He's ahead of them all. The press is like, where have you been?

He has a good quote like, oh, I've just been working on my game. And your ransom and your teller notes. But then the next day, he shot 78. The next day, 80. And the next day, 78 again. Finished last among the cuts.

Qualifiers. Got so mad. Robbed a bank that next day, but didn't do the disguise. Gets caught. Turns out he robbed 19 banks that year on tour.

Went to jail for, I think, 25 to 30 years. But if you look it up, Adam, he did lead the tour in the money list. True story.

They weren't playing for that money. Golf just gets so addictive, you can't give it up. I didn't see his name in some of the stuff that I read about the book, but I saw a golfer working on his third heart. I am assuming that it's a guy we talked to two days ago, Eric Compton, who's actually playing here in Raleigh right now.

The Rex Hospital Open, the Korn Ferry Tours event, is this week at Wakefield Country Club in North Raleigh, and Compton is in the field, and I talked to him on Tuesday. Well, can we explain what happened? He was a good kid athlete, 12 years old. They said, your heart's giving out. He had to have a new heart or he was going to die. Got the heart of a young girl, played with that heart really well, made the tour, and then at 28, that heart gave out. Then he got the heart, and the thing is, almost nobody survives to that third heart. But he did. He got the heart of a kid named Isaac, killed in a motorcycle accident at age 17, and almost won the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Right here.

Right down the street. And played great. Imagine that. Imagine that. A guy with his third heart almost won our national championship.

Anyway, fast forward to the Muir Field Tournament this week. It was years ago, about 10 years ago. He's having dinner, and the waitress goes, oh, you're the guy with the transplant heart. He goes, yeah, yeah. She says, I know something about that because my nephew, Isaac, died in a motorcycle wreck and gave up his heart.

Wow. He's like, oh, my God, and he can't speak. He starts to cry, and he says, your nephew's heart is inside me. She starts to cry, and they don't know what to do. She runs in the kitchen and cries, comes back out, and she says, can I feel him?

Oh, man. And so they hug, and she can feel her nephew's heart inside him. And so the chapter's about that, and then the two mothers meeting, right? And so I believe in karma.

I believe in Buddhism, right? So at that moment, the two mothers meet, and one's horrible grief in losing her son, but also is the joy that this other mother has that her son's still alive. And that's how we all are, aren't we? Right. It's all mixed up.

It's all one fabric, and her joy, grief, sadness, tears of joy, and they hug, and they become great friends now. And Eric Compton is still doing great. Last year, he was in the top 10 for a while at Colonial, and he's just a great guy that just won't give up. Yeah, look, again, the conversation, spending a lot of time with his daughter.

His daughter plays. Right. And look, he's 42 years old. He says he's sort of late in this heart, and there's a lifespan. Because now it's been 14 years on this heart.

The last heart lasted 16. What did he say? He didn't expand on where it might go. He doesn't like to. But yeah, I'm sure he doesn't. But we talked about playing. He's obviously okay financially, even though he's playing the Corn Fairy Tour.

We'll get to finances and golf in another subject in a minute. But look, he's just a great story. He's great. He's just a great story. You know, we might as well get to it, because as much as I hate the Saudi League, LIV, LIV, and I would never take that blood money.

This is a nation, a regime that kills gay people, kills an American journalist, has a terrible record on human rights, and I'd never do it. But Eric Compton. Right.

You can go over there, and he's a great story, and they can pick who they want. Correct. 48 guys, nobody gets cut.

I think the last place money is something stupid. 120 grand. Yeah, something like that. So if I'm Eric Compton, did you ask him? I asked him about it. I didn't ask him if he would do it. I just asked him about it.

It sounded to me like his answer was, it's an opportunity to play. And I think that, especially the sport of golf, I think there's enough guys, this is why I believe it has staying power. I think there's enough people who can turn their head away from where the money, what the source of the money is, and because the amount is so astronomical. I think it has staying power.

Of course it does. It's stupid money these guys are giving away, because they don't have to show a profit. They can give Dustin Johnson $150 million. To be honest, I don't even know if Dustin Johnson knows where Saudi Arabia is, or what it is. One time I wrote, because he's one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, and one of the dumbest. One time I wrote, Dustin Johnson is so dense, light bends around him. I asked his agent later, did that make him mad?

He goes, he didn't even understand it. So $150 million for him. They're just giving away crazy money.

You can't be cut. God knows what else they got in mind. So this is the thing the tour has been dreading.

It's always been out there, who is going to come up with a better tour where they give away crazy money and draw people away. Because there's no law that says you have to play for the PGA Tour. I would hate to see Phil do it. I'm a big Phil guy, I'm not a Tiger guy. Love Tiger's game, don't love the man, don't love his manners. Phil, greatest tipper ever, best guy with the fans I've ever seen, says stupid crap all the time. So he says stupid crap, thinking he was off the record in this book, he wasn't.

So he says it, and now he's ruined his legacy. And yet he doesn't put himself on the list for this first Saudi Arabia tournament in London. But there's one place left. There's six actually. There's six spots left. Unless they filled the other five of the others.

There was 42 players that they announced. Well this thing came out that one was a very high profile. So that's what I'm talking about.

That spot. Very high profile. So I hope he doesn't do this. Don't do it. Because it's blood money. I can't tell you how disappointed I would be in Phil if he supported that government by doing this. Well here's the thing. Phil's been, based on what I understand, Phil's actually been instrumental in writing the rules of the tour. Yeah, I know. But he must have seen now the weather balloon that went up. People hate this idea.

I hate it. And by the way, do you want to go fly, what is it, 36 hours to get to Riyadh? You know, before all this happened he was making $40 million a year in endorsements.

He was voted number two in the PIP thing. He wins the PGA at 51 almost. So do you really want to do all that and leave your kids? What are you going to do?

Take them to Saudi Arabia? So I hope it fails. But I'm afraid it's going to be a real problem for the PGA Tour. And as we talked about before we came on, it's all up to the Masters.

I think it is. If the Masters says you play in that, you're out. You're banned for 10 years, whatever they say. Because people don't realize this, you can still play the majors.

Sure. Although now the PGA Tour has said no, you can't play ours. But US Open, Open Championship, we'll see how that goes. And the Masters, they haven't said you're out. So the question is, what those other people do, the people that run the majors, Ryder Cup, if you can't play in that, they're not going to go because these guys play in the Ryder Cup for free. They would play in the Masters for free.

They would. So your legacy means something. Yeah, but maybe it doesn't. Maybe DJ's legacy is already written. I think he's about 40.

37. So he's sort of coming to the part where maybe it goes the other way. DJ hasn't been as good since he won the Masters in 2020 in November. Ah, but he could do it. I mean, Jack won a major of 40. He won one at 46. Tiger at 44 and Phil at 50.

Julius Boros was winning at 56. Don't do this. I'm not sure he realizes what he's doing. It's very, it's very possible.

Rick Riley is here. Here's the thing. The PGA Tour's response. They can ban, but I don't know that banning is their move. Simply rescinding membership is probably their move. Maybe a suspension for a period of time.

A short suspension even. Simply rescinding membership and everything that comes with that pension, benefits, FedEx Cup. Well, everything changed when Dustin signed up. Because if it was just Brooks Koepka's brother and Adam Jones, then they just said, you're all banned.

And that would have been scary for the bigger, and so I'm not going to do that. But now when Dustin Johnson goes, do they really want to lose Dustin Johnson? And if Phil or whoever that big name is goes, do they really want to lose those guys?

So yeah, I think you're right. The other thing is, would they be sued? Now, if I run the NFL and you're an NFL player and you say, yeah, I'm going to play for you guys, but I'm also going to play in the Canadian league, you know, or I'm going to play in the USFL. Well, couldn't you legally go, no, that's our competitor.

You can't work at Burger King and also work at McDonald's. So people say, oh, they'd lose that lawsuit. I think they'd win it, but what do I know? The players that I've spoken with believe that it will hold up, that they will be able to enforce that. Look, there are rules. They have allowed in the past, they have allowed players to play on other tours that have a competing event with a US event.

That's one event, right? They have, but they have a lot. They did. They denied the waiver. I thought they would allow the waiver for the first one.

I really did. But it was apparent that, uh, the Jay Monahan has drawn the line in the sand. I just, I'm waiting to hear their response. Their response will not come, I guess, until I think tee shots.

I think they're scared. How do you fight monopoly money? Yeah. It's just crazy stupid money. Do you think that, like I argued when this issue first came up, Rick Riley's in studio with us, uh, the book is called, so help me golf, which we've actually talked a little bit about.

I'm actually, I'm proud of it. But the, when this first happened, I thought, man, if the PGA tour just allowed appearance fees, which they don't allow, they've allowed it on the European tour for years. Uh, but if the PGA tour just allowed an appearance fee, so you want Phil Mickelson in your event and you're willing to pay him $3 million to do it, then he'd show up to your event. Well, exactly. It's a great point. And it doesn't come out of the PGA tour's pocket. Right? So if, if BMW, which is, has a tournament says, okay, because these guys used to go over there and get $3 million.

Tiger would play two events a year in Europe for that. Yeah. I remember one time, Joe, Joe Montana and Herschel Walker got invited to what's the Sultan of Brunei, right? Okay. Yeah. Come on over and, and we'll give you a, well, at the time it was a million dollars and that was crazy money in the eighties.

So two of our best athletes at their peak, Joe Montana, Herschel Walker, maybe this is 88. They fly over there. The Sultan has uniforms and helmets for them. And they're like, what?

Yeah. You're going to play, Herschel, you're going to play on the guards team. Joe, you're going to play on the Sultan's team. And they're like, no, no.

Somehow Joe got out of it, but Herschel had to play. That's crazy. There's no footage of that, is there?

That would be really good. But they describe it as you just walk down the street and there'd be a store with all red Ferraris. And the next door was all diamonds. And there were all the, it's like a closet. There is so much money over there. Hey, did you know I'm signing, just to get back to the books, I could, Quail Ridge at the North Hills.

Which is over in North Hills, right. As I say, it doesn't have to be my book. I'll sign anybody's book.

Stephen King, David Sedaris. What's your favorite, other than anything you've written, what is your favorite sports book? Ball Four. That was my answer. Was it?

That was absolutely my answer. I bet I've read that 11 times. Did you read the sequel to it? He wrote a sequel to it.

Yeah. He wrote an extra chapter, right? Yeah, it might've been just an extra chapter. But that book taught me, and I was probably 10 years old, like, oh, there's a lot more going on than just score.

And that's when I realized I would be good at writing these stories. Because I never really cared about the score. I've always cared about the stories, which is kind of, this book doesn't have many scores in it. There's a chapter about Lucas Glover, he won the USM. The guy hasn't putted from inside three feet with his eyes open in five years.

And I didn't know that. Because he reads two books a week and everything. So he pulls down, he got the yip so bad that every time he impacted the putt, the ball on a short putt, he'd flinch. If you Google horrible golf putt, a Lucas Glover 18-inch, he doesn't even hit the hole. That comes up. But now he just putts with his eyes closed. Rick Riley is in studio with us. Or you say you have Greg Norman stories.

And I wanted to get to this part of the live series, because this is the part where I get it. Greg Norman, to me, has a justifiable vendetta against the PGA Tour. The World Golf Championships. They were his idea. Tim Fincham told Greg to pound sand. And then started the World Golf Championships. So I get Greg Norman's been carrying this around for about 30 years.

Plus all the horrible things that happened to him in America. Larry Mize chips in. Bob Twy chips in at the PGA. Noda Begay flies one in the hole. David Frost.

All those guys. So yeah, he's always felt this way, hexed about anything. But see, he's done so badly at this. He gives a quote like, what did you think of that when the Saudis murdered Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist?

He goes, well, that's probably a mistake. You think so, shark? But I'll just tell you a quick shark story. Because in the 80s and early 90s, he was the coolest guy on the planet. He'd give me rides in his helicopter.

We always expect him to show up by submarine to the tournament. He was just so cool with those blue eyes and the hair. Like someone was holding a blowback fan in his hair all the time.

He was just too cool. So we're doing this story. And it was, again, this week at Muirfield. And we're out at night. It's like a Wednesday night.

It's raining. Two lane road. And I was asking about, he likes to hang out with race car drivers. He's like, watch this, mate.

We've got to be doing 100. He had a Trans Am with 600 horsepower. Nobody on the road, but it's rainy and slick. He goes, watch this, mate. Throws it in neutral, hits the emergency brake, whips the wheel. We go into a perfect 180.

I saw trees, telephone poles go by in my life, for instance. And we took off in a perfect 180. And he goes, not in the article. Don't put it in the article. And I didn't.

This is a book. Quick story. I have a Greg Norman story. And this is the first time I ever encountered him. I went to the University of Maryland. This is an absolute true story. And in the summer, I stayed down there after my sophomore year and hanging out with a friend of mine who lives in Rockville.

And he goes, hey, next week, the Kemper Open is here. Do you want to work in the hospitality? So I worked as a volunteer and I got my money and paid. I don't remember CBS hospitality. Beautiful.

Right. So we worked until like four o'clock every day of the tournament, just serving the CBS employees in their hospitality area. And then after that, we were free to do what we wanted. So in 1986, Greg Norman won in a six hole playoff with Larry Mize.

We were done at four o'clock and then we got a chance to go out. We had passes to walk the course. And I walked with Norman and Mize in a six hole playoff. And then after the tournament was over, Norman won in the playoff.

They're in the inside the clubhouse at Congressional Country Club. And because I had clubhouse access, I was inside the clubhouse and Norman bought everybody champagne. Wow. I mean, there had to be 100 people in the clubhouse. Champagne Tony Lima.

Exactly. So that was my first experience with Norman. I became a huge Norman fan.

I always was. This is what really disappoints me about this is that Norman was Tiger before Tiger was Tiger. He was. He was the star. Long no cut streak.

He was the attraction. And I remember in, I think it was the 2008 Open Championship that Padraig Harrington ultimately won, Norman's playing in the final group. And we all knew it was going to happen because Greg had final round issues like he always had them in his career. Should have won the Masters in 86. So this is 2008?

Is this when he was married to Chris Everett? Right. Okay. Right. So, and I'm hosting a show and people are like, who cares about Greg?

And I'm like, you don't get it. Like, see, Tiger today, that's what Norman was. Yeah. Norman was in the 90s. That was Greg Norman. Dude, I'll never forget being in the Augusta clubhouse Saturday night, 1996.

He's got a six shot lead. It's just me and him and I'm interviewing him and shooting the breeze. And a guy named Peter Dobreiner, this big dandruff coated British rider with nose hair and all this stuff. And he was just such a jerk. And he comes and says, Shark, even you can't screw this up. Oh, you were there when that was set. I was sitting right there and Shark, just like his eyes get big and he kind of turns pale. And I'm like, holy, I can't believe he just jinxed him. Because we were sitting there thinking, this would be your last night in the regular locker room.

You'll be up in the champions room. I didn't, you know, we just kidded about it. And Dobreiner said that and then it just went to hell the next day. And I think a lot of us was, Shark always thought bad things would happen to him.

And that kind of helped. Also Shark is so confident. He's like, I'm 1000% hitting five iron under this. And no one can talk him out of anything. Like his caddy never got a veto.

So things go wrong and they go wrong fast. And then as I talked to him afterwards, I said, you know, today was the day the Titanic sunk. It's still one of the most stunning things I've ever seen. And Faldo had to make a putt on Saturday to get into the final group. And that was the worst thing that could have happened to Greg.

It's a strange story. Like as we're talking out in the parking lot, after he's blown it in front of the world, just gets flayed open like Prometheus on the rocks, right? I said, man, how are you dealing with this?

He goes, this is crazy. I know I blew it. But that hug Faldo gave me was the greatest hug I've ever gotten from a guy in my life.

And I'm like, explain. My dad never hugged me. I didn't have any uncles that hugged me. And he never said he loved me.

And that was the first time a guy's really hugged me like it meant. And that's weird for Faldo to show real pathos. Right. But he did. He did. And Norman really appreciate it, which is a very weird thing to be thinking afterwards. But that's how he felt. I always felt that he handled it like a gentleman. He handled the loss like a gentleman.

But yeah, absolutely. And he didn't hide from it. He knew he had blown it.

But I always wondered if he had been more angry, even openly angry with himself, that if he might have gotten, because he was still good enough to win. Well, there's an old saying in golf tour, you got to be your own best friend. So it's never your fault. Like I remember, when I first started, Jack was out there, and he'd fly the green, right?

Then he'd fix a ballmark right by the pin like, damn greens aren't holding. It's never Jack's fault. I think that's how Shark was. Might have been. Faldo said, and I've listened to him as a commentator, that never blame yourself. It was always a good read.

It hits something on the way. Never blame. Well, definitely Seve. We used to follow Seve because he'd go through caddies like Taylor Swift, goes through boyfriends, you know? Because we never knew what he was going to do.

So even if he was last, he was still fun to follow. And one time he completely hits a terrible shot, and he starts blaming the cat, and he's yelling at him. And he said, I don't blame you for this terrible mistake, this stupid mistake. I blame myself for hiring you.

And then we found out it was one of his brothers. Oh my gosh. We absolutely miss Seve on tour. Rick Riley, before I let you go, because I know you write about so many different things in this book. I know you've got a chapter on Jim Nantz. Is he the best anchor in golf history?

You know, the chapter starts out, I am sick of being happy for Jim Nantz. Because he's such a nice guy. He remembers everybody. He's got a photographic memory. He remembers everybody's name. He's got the best job.

Masters, Final Four, NFL, Super Bowl. When Bush had a state dinner, when Bush 43 was president, he had the queen coming. He was all nervous. He got Nantz to come so he could talk to the queen. He's like, Jimmy, you keep the conversation going.

And he says to the queen, this is Jim Nantz. He's our best announcer. He just did the Final Four and the Augusta. That's what he said. He did the Augusta.

Is he the best? I mean, I'm friends with Al Michaels. There's a story in there. I made a hole in one with Al Michaels. Did you?

Good for you. So I hit the shot, and it starts rolling backwards to the pin. This is in LA. And Al Michaels launches into that incredible play-by-play mode, which might have been the best play-by-play. And he goes, hold on, folks. We're not done yet. This could be. It might be. It is. And I was just like, this is.

And I said, I wished I had a tape, but I can remember it to this day. So is Nantz the best? He's got to be in the photo, right?

Top three? I mean, I just don't know anybody who, as an anchor for golf, who is better because he gets the game because he played the game competitively. He just gets every game, though.

He's so good, and he's just so precise. He's a friend of mine, but I didn't get invited to his wedding because it was at the seventh hole at Pebble Beach. They stopped playing for Jim Nantz to get married. Are you serious? Yeah. And they're on the tee box.

It's the world's great, most beautiful par three. So he's getting married. He goes, oh, Rick, it was so great. You should have been there. I'm like, well, I would have liked to. But anyway, he's like, just as we said our I do's, a whole flock of Seagulls came up from the crashing waves behind the, and people thought we trained these Seagulls. And I'm like, just shut up.

I'm sick of being happy for you. Look, he has a replica of the seventh hole in his backyard, right? He does. He's got a short replica, and we've seen video of people going into his backyard. Yeah, remember Peyton Manning and Tom Brady snuck on? Well, that hole. That was funny.

The Omaha production stuff that they did was great, where they show up at the gate. You know, speaking of great announcers, Peyton Manning, if he chooses to do it, would be the best color commentator on any sport of all time. He'll do so much homework, unlike Eli. And he'd just be so good, he can do anything. I've been to events where he's, I'm the emcee, and he's got questions for me.

And he's got a whole notebook. He would be so good. I pray that he becomes our color guy. Because with Nancy, it'd be better than Romo, it'd be better than anybody. He's that good. He is excellent.

Tom Brady's going to make more money doing Fox NFL games than he made ever in the NFL. Is there any job where you don't have to have ever done it, and yet you get to do it as soon as you're ready? And the only thing I can think of is US president.

No politics, never even dog catcher, here you go. Is Commander in Cheat one of your favorite books? Oh yeah, I wrote this book about how much Trump cheats at golf.

It was just supposed to be an article. But he was telling people, I'm a winner. I won 18 club championships against the best players. I'm like, I played with you, buddy.

You told me how you do it. Whenever he buys a new golf course, the first round is the club championship, which he plays by himself. And he has this other rule, and he's got 18 clubs around the world.

If you're the club champion and you quit the club, your name comes off and his goes on. Really? Yeah, good for, well, that's good. You said it before, it was good to be the king. Good to be the king.

It's good to be the king. Rick Riley tonight, So Help Me Golf is the book, Quail Ridge Books in North Hills, 4209 Lassiter Mill Road, 78. I know. I found out the hard way. You've been there already today.

I've already seen it, yeah. You scouted it out. Thank you very much.

Is there anything else you want to hit on before you leave? I'm just glad you could have me in studio because this is pretty cool. This is very cool. I think cooler for me than for you, to be honest. I doubt it, I doubt it.

No, I'm serious. Thank you. Thank you very much, Rick Riley. As we wrap up the first week post Carolina Hurricanes season, I have a couple of thoughts on what type of a team this is and what might be missing. I have some thoughts on that. But let's start, let's just listen to a little bit of what Rod Brind'Amour and Don Waddell had to say yesterday, and then we can sort of piece together the rest of it. We'll start with Don Waddell, who is the president and general manager of the team. Now, you should know this, the Hurricanes, in terms of organizational decisions, they're really run by Tom Dundon. Tom and Eric Tulski, who is their analytics guy and he's the assistant general manager, they basically make most, if not all of the decisions.

Don Waddell is part of it, but it really does come from the ownership along with Eric Tulski on down. And for the most part, they have done a really good job of building the rosters out over the last several years. They really have. I am not in any way criticizing the decisions that they have made.

This has really worked out very well. Make the playoffs in year one, it was not a furious rally, but a second half surge where they were like 28 points over NHL 500, I believe the last 45 games. Then the year that got halted because of the pandemic that ended in the bubble in Toronto, they weren't quite as good, but I believe they were like sixth in the East at the time of the shutdown. And they were just starting to hit their stride.

Justin Williams was coming back. Then last year, they win the Central Division that had Tampa and Florida in it. And this year, of course, they win the Metro, the division that nobody thought they'd ever win when these divisions were devised about eight years ago. Everybody looked at that division and went, yeah, hurricanes are never going to win it. You've got Pittsburgh, you've got Washington, you've got Philadelphia, you've got the Rangers, you've got the Devils. Devils were pretty good back then, right? And none of us could say you're wrong because hurricanes were admired in a four or five year stretch of being bad. So I got it. I understood.

You were probably right. They won that division this year. Rangers might win a Stanley Cup. I actually think the Rangers could win a Stanley Cup. I mean, they're great teams in that division.

Just no getting around it. And the East is going to be difficult to make the playoffs. It's going to be hard to make the playoffs next year. I think Carolina will because I think Carolina's core is outstanding, but it's going to be hard to make the playoffs.

It's not going to be easy. And the Hurricanes could end up being a wildcard team very, very easily next year. I think it's going to be good, you know, who knows how good Washington or Pittsburgh are going to be.

Either way, windows are closing fast. Yeah, you know, Pittsburgh still has Crosby. And they re-signed Rust and Gensl and Tristan Jarry, healthy is good. And it all depends on what happens with some of their other pieces, right? But they still have Crosby. And they are brilliantly coached by Mike Sullivan.

So they're going to be good. Washington, I think, is definitely the team that is on the way down. But they also still have Alexander Ovechkin and Nicholas Backstrom and TJ Oshie and tons of really good players. They have goaltending issues to work out and defensive issues to work out. But again, they've got Ovechkin.

We could probably just end the conversation there. But the Hurricanes are going to be good for a long time. Anyway, now they've got decisions to make. And what Carolina needs are some more young players because young players don't make a lot of money. They need young players to start dotting the lineup. And here's Don Waddell on that.

Young kids, you know, the one that was here that we all got a small taste of. Drury has been exceptional. He continues to do everything that is asked of him and more. So, no, we think we've got a good new, probably six or seven, you know, real good prospects down there, including Peter, who will head back down there and get to play some games coming up. He was talking about Pyotr Kuchetkov, the goalie, who still probably will not be part of this team next year. He needs a full year in the AHL. And Carolina is pretty much set with goaltending with Frederick Anderson and Ante Ranta. But it's good to know that you have somebody that you can rely on to be another goalie. And they have another goalie prospect in A2 Makiniemi. He was having a great year until he got hurt, missed the rest of the season. So Jack Drury will be part of this team. They probably need one or two more young players to make the team. Is it Jamison Reese?

I don't know. But Reese is a guy that they like. Is Jalen Chatfield going to be part of the Hurricanes on defense? I see Jalen as a bottom pair guy. But if he makes the team, there's another minimum salary.

And if you're going to pay guys a lot of money, then you need some minimum salary guys. So that's potentially Jalen Chatfield. That's potentially... Jack Drury is going to make the team. But you probably need three or maybe four of those players. Obviously, Seth Jarvis has two more years left on his entry-level deal, which will pay him about $900,000. So Seth Jarvis is a top-line forward. All right, real quick as to what they need.

Well, let's do this first. Because Martin Neches fits in here somewhere. Here's Rod Brind'Amour, the head coach, on Martin Neches. You always expect to get better, right? From everyone. And I think we're expecting bigger things from him.

And it didn't happen this year, you know, for whatever reason. So that's on me to get him. My job is to get him to play at their best. That's it. He didn't. So there's...

I got to figure that out. But he's getting on him, too. He knows he had to be better.

So he's such a talent that got to figure that one out. We need more from him. Expect more where he plays. You know, he wants to play center.

We talked about that. That's a tough position. So that's where the trust comes in. You can't just, oh, I want to play center. That's one of the most important positions in the game.

So that's an option, definitely. But he's got to earn that. So he knows that. I think that's good that he's communicated that. I'm glad he's figured that out. So now he's got to go do it.

And then he's got an offseason to kind of get that part of his game. And we'll see where it goes. All right, real quick about center. I've told this story before. Rod Brind'Amour never believed that Sebastian Ajo was a center in the NHL. Never believed it. As a matter of fact, remember the time where Carolina cranked it up in the 18-19 season. The day that they started that comeback, Sebastian Ajo started on left wing.

In that game, Jordan Stahl sustained a concussion. Sebastian Ajo moved back to center. Aside from a game here or there, and including one this season, Ajo has been at center ever since. Martin Neches does have to earn that back. He has to prove to the head coach that he can be a center. And he proves that by doing the other things. I don't necessarily disagree with Neches. He was a natural center. He has to operate better in the middle of the ice. And that's where I think you see Neches' biggest weakness. This is going to be a very, very interesting offseason for the Hurricanes. But I think they're close to being as good as anybody else in the league.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-12 10:52:35 / 2023-02-12 11:08:58 / 16

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