#FanAskAway: For Dundon, hockey wins will breed business success

October 2, 2018

Hurricanes insider Adam Gold sat down with Carolina Hurricanes management – new owner Tom Dundon, first-year head coach Rod Brind’Amour and president/general manager Don Waddell – to ask him all the questions on the minds of the fans. What did they have to say?

Dundon, one of the younger owners in the league and new to professional sports, talked about the process of buying the Hurricanes and what he’s gone through as he’s gone from successful businessman to owner.

“I think the hardest thing is I had one job pretty much my whole life. I worked with the same people and grew up with folks that started in their young 20s. Everyone knew how things needed to be done and how they were going to be done, and it wasn’t a debate,” Dundon said. “You get here, and people are questioning, whether to your face or behind your back, if you know what you’re talking about. So that was hard for me.”

“Did you (know what you’re talking about)?” Gold asked.

“I don’t know,” Dundon said. “But I know if I mess it up, I’ll fix it. I’m not going to say I’ll do it right the first time every time. That was hard for me. I wasn’t used to so many, such a hard time having to explain myself versus people maybe giving me a little bit of a benefit of the doubt, which is fine. It’s life. I hadn’t earned it to them.”

Dundon hasn’t done things conventionally, and he’s taken criticism over it. But he doesn’t care about that. He cares more about avoiding the one thing he hates the most.

“The losing bothers me. That is pretty much the only thing in this world that I can’t deal with very well. But I don’t care what people think about me as much as most humans,” Dundon said.

One question for Dundon, though, was easy:

“You try to do them all, but I think the hockey side is way more important, so I don’t think it’s that close. The business side is easier to figure out what needed to be done there,” Dundon said. “The hockey side is harder. You’re competing with 30 other teams for talent that’s hard to acquire whereas in business, you just go do what you need to do. The business is not going to improve until the team improves. When the team improves, business will improve.”

The two biggest questions that always come up about this team are ending the nine-year playoff drought and the possibility the franchise relocates somewhere else.

Brind’Amour, who’s been around for the playoff drought, has seen it firsthand. He knows what happened and what it will take to fix it.

“Really what’s happened is we’ve just dropped the ball a little bit. We just kind of forgot, I think, the level that we needed to be at from the top down, just how hard it is to be successful in this league and how everything matters,” Brind’Amour said. “The bar just got dropped a little bit, and it’s too hard. Everything has to be clicking on all cylinders to even have a chance to be successful, and I think we just forgot a little bit how to do it. Not that we’re there yet for sure, but we’ve got to get back to it and that’s what we’re all doing here.”

Both Waddell and Dundon spoke highly of Brind’Amour’s ability to take this team to the next level.

“Every business is hard. The world is hard,” Dundon said. “People that care more and try harder do better. He cares more and tries harder than most, so I think that’s probably the best thing we can do.”

And then, of course, the possibility of the franchise relocating.

The lease with PNC Arena runs out in 2024, but Dundon said that they’re working with Centennial Authority to figure that part out.

It’s difficult, though, to prove a negative. “It’s no conversation that I’ve ever had with anyone,” Dundon said. He also said that one of his sons is looking at schools in the area. And he’s already savvy enough about the Triangle to know not to say which one.

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