'Canes missing playoffs for 5th straight year

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm •  Published: April 9, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes once again will have plenty of free time in April and beyond.

They've locked up a fifth straight year without making the playoffs — the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference.

That makes seven of eight seasons since winning the 2006 Stanley Cup that they've missed the postseason.

"We've felt it the last couple of years in a row here," veteran defenseman Jay Harrison said Wednesday after practice. "All too familiar, perhaps."

Now it's about playing the three remaining games, starting with the home finale Thursday night against Washington.

"It's never fun being out of the playoffs," captain Eric Staal said. "It's never fun not playing for anything. But you come to the rink, you be a pro and you work and you compete."

Harrison says there was "a sense of deflation" after a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday night took them out of the playoff chase once again.

In a television interview with the team's broadcaster during that game, owner Peter Karmanos Jr. said "I need the fans to be even more patient than they have been."

That hasn't been easy for a frustrated fan base after the Hurricanes slipped to 13th in the 16-team East with 79 points.

After a recent home loss to New Jersey, coach Kirk Muller said that while "a lot of guys" played with desperation, "we just didn't have everybody."

Staal echoed that sentiment Wednesday, saying that while he wished he could have done more this season, "I think there's a lot of guys that could have brought a little bit more."

Karmanos said in the interview that he likes the coaching staff, but Muller says he hasn't heard from anyone in management about his future. The third-year coach is 78-79-27 with Carolina.

"The biggest thing for me is, I want to be a part of this team that turns it around," Muller said. "I'm not happy that we didn't make the playoffs, but I want to be around to change this thing around."

There's even a question of whether the man who put this team together — longtime general manager Jim Rutherford — will be back, with speculation that the 65-year-old former goalie will retire. Rutherford has told The Associated Press he won't decide anything until after the season.