Maurice out again as Canes coach, Muller to take over

Posted November 28, 2011
Updated November 29, 2011

— The Carolina Hurricanes fired head coach Paul Maurice Monday and replaced him with long-time player and first-time NHL head coach Kirk Muller.

At a press conference announcing the hire, general manager Jim Rutherford said that he "wanted to bring somebody in who had different ideas from another organization.”

Canes name Kirk Muller as head coach Canes name Kirk Muller as head coach

The Canes position is Muller's first NHL head coaching job. Muller spent five seasons as an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens before taking over as the head coach for the Nashville Predators' AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals on June 27 of this year.

Muller repeadedly stressed the word "accountability" as he was introduced Monday afternoon and said that he is impressed with the team's pace of play as well as youth.

"To me as an ex-player and with my coaching experience so far its really simple," Muller said. "You've got to get guys to believe in a system and believe in being accountable to each other."

Muller played for 19 seasons with multiple teams including the Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens, and New Jersey Devils. He was a second overall pick by the Devils in 1984 and went on to make six all-star teams.

As a player, Muller scored 30 or more goals five times and topped 70 points seven times. He also played for Team Canada in the 1984 Olympics and tallied the Stanley Cup winner for the Canadiens in 1993.

“Kirk is a proven leader and motivator, and he has strong communication skills,” said Rutherford. “He was a captain and a Stanley Cup winner as a player, and did excellent work as a coach with the Canadiens and the Admirals. We feel confident that he is the right man to lead our team now and in the future.”

Muller was also an assistant coach for the 2006 Team Canada U-18 team that featured current Hurricanes player Brandon Sutter.

Muller, 45, becomes the 12th head coach for the franchise, and the third to be head coach since the team relocated to North Carolina in 1997.

Jeff Daniels, who has been with the Carolina Hurricanes organization since 1995 and has been the head coach and general manager of the AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers since 2008, was also discussed as a replacement but Rutherford said keeping him in Charlotte was best for the organization and the development of the younger players..

Daniels was an assistant coach for the Hurricanes for four seasons leading up to 2008 and was behind the bench for the team’s 2006 Stanley Cup win.

This past weekend, Muller’s Admirals lost to the Checkers twice by scores of 5-1 and 3-2.

Carolina is last in the Southeast Division with an 8-13-4 record (20 points) and are next to last in goal differential in the Eastern Conference at -23. They have won just three of their last 13 games and dropped three in a row.

The Hurricanes are just 3-7-2 on the road this season. They have also given goaltender Cam Ward very little help. Ward has faced the second most shots in the NHL through Monday with 629 and the team has given up an NHL worst 83 goals.

Captain Eric Staal has also struggled recording just 11 points in 25 games while taking a team-high 89 shots and holding a team worst minus-17 plus-minus rating.

Muller said Monday that he wasn't going to come in and change the identity overnight, but players like Staal will be vital to turning things around.

"Your best players have to be your best players (but) everybody needs to feel part of the team, what they can bring to the table," he said.

Rutherford indicated he is open to making a trade to bolster the lineup and said Monday that he is actively looking for a deal.

"In an ideal world we would like to have one top-six forward and even an extra top-nine forward," Rutherford said. "If we can trade a defenseman for a top-nine forward, we’ll do it… It’s not easy making trades."

Maurice was fired just 25 games into the season and a day after a 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators in which they went just 1-for-8 on the power play. He has gone on record in recent weeks saying that he is responsible for the players’ slow starts.

“It comes from the coach; bottom line,” Maurice said when prompted on the struggles of Staal. “It’s not on the captain and the players. It’s on me.”

The Canes’ bright spots lie in the lesser expected. Second-year center Jeff Skinner leads the team with nine goals and 21 points. Winger Jussi Jokinen is second on the team with 15 points. Chad LaRose has skated in all 25 games and is tied with Jokinen with an overachieving 15 points.

Maurice was in his second stint with the Hurricanes organization recording a combined 384-391-145. He was with the Hartford Whalers beginning in the 1995-1996 season and made the move with the team to Raleigh after the 1996-97 year.

He guided the Canes to the playoffs three times between 1998 and 2002 losing in the Stanley Cup Finals in the 2001-02 season. Carolina then struggled the following year only winning 22 games and Maurice was let go 30 games into the 2003-04 season.

Maurice returned to the Hurricanes bench in the 2008-09 season, taking over for Peter Laviolette in early December and guiding the team to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Hurricanes have failed to reach the playoffs each of the last two seasons and are headed for a long offseason again as the standings reflect a quarter of the way through 2011-12.

Maurice coached the Toronto Maple Leafs for two seasons between Hurricanes stints finishing over .500 but failing to reach the playoffs each season.

Earlier this season, Maurice became one of just three active NHL head coaches with over 900 games coached with their respective teams. The two remaining are Lindy Ruff in Buffalo and Barry Trotz in Nashville.


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  • fzero Nov 29, 2011

    View quoted thread

    Whoa there, fanboy. Staal doesn't do much at all. He doesn't backcheck (as evidenced by his plus/minus rating), he takes poor quality shots and he doesn't even skate hard some shifts. Watch him. I know you'd probably like to cuddle up with Eric's jock strap at night, but seriously watch just him on the ice for an entire game. Tell me how many shifts he takes off.

  • StunGunn Nov 29, 2011

    View quoted thread

    The more I think about it, and the more I read about Muller, the better I feel. I still like Daniels, and I think he's a good coach. I thought it would be a benefit to have a new coach who knows the system/players because the learning curve would be a lot shorter, but the result may have been similar to what we've been seeing on the ice. Bringing in a guy with fresh ideas and an aggressive game plan may just be what the Canes need.

  • mosleytim Nov 29, 2011

    View quoted thread

    Um, if anything Staal was trying to do TOO to see him gone, what are you f'n stupid?! He goes, like Francis did with the Whale back in '91, then this team is SURELY done. Staal will be fine, and people like you on his back all the time don't help. I hear the half-cheers when his goals are announced from people like you and then yell wildly when Skinner scores. Go be a fan of the SABRES then if you're gonna be like that, jer*face.

  • kbkline Nov 29, 2011

    I love the Canes but I'm glad I didn't renew my tickets this year.........

  • Jakethesnake Nov 29, 2011

    why would we want jeff daniels a guy who last played the maurice system and knows all the players. we needed someone new and Muller was an awesome choice. Francis and Brindamour are not good coaches and do not have any experience(besides francis one year). Muller was a star nhl player, assisted coaching in a canadien hockey town for a good team, and has run his own team. Great choice here.

  • StunGunn Nov 29, 2011

    View quoted thread

    Good points, and I feel better about Daniels staying in Charlotte after reading your post. I had heard part of JR's presser yesterday, and he did say something about not wanting to disrupt the development of the young talent. At first blush, I thought it was PR BS, but there might be merit to it. From what I've read about Muller, he seems to have a lot of potential.

  • StunGunn Nov 29, 2011

    View quoted thread

    Rutherford did keep the Cup team together, and they didn't even make the playoffs the next year. Each year that the Canes have had a really good season (and there haven't been too many of those) Rutherford does try to keep the team intact. Unfortunately, his efforts haven't been rewarded.

  • same ole story Nov 29, 2011

    Another of the Rutherford cost cutting moves. Going low end on the salary wages to get a new guy. Noticed the price of tickets, parking, concessions didn't go down. You have not put a quality product on the ice for years! Until we get some good players on the roster my money will stay in my pocket.

  • ed taylor Nov 29, 2011

    Well, one thing is for sure! Time will tell. I hope we can look back a few years from now and say this was a great choice.

  • StunGunn Nov 29, 2011

    I, too, had hoped Jeff Daniels would be named the new Head Coach. JR wants ideas "outside the organization". I thought it would be beneficial to have an "inside" guy who knows the players and system, but maybe getting in some fresh ideas is the way to go. At any rate, I hope Daniels is happy in Charlotte, because I'd hate to lose him; there will be a day when he's ready to move up to Raleigh.




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