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Hurricanes

Canes fire Laviolette, Maurice returns as coach

Posted December 3, 2008
Updated December 4, 2008

The Carolina Hurricanes, looking to jump-start a team that hasn’t reached the playoffs for two seasons after winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, fired coach Peter Laviolette on Wednesday and replaced him with former coach Paul Maurice.

The dramatic move also included naming former star Ron Francis as associate coach. Francis had been in the front office as assistant general manager.

General Manager Jim Rutherford said he made the changes, after discussions with owner Peter Karmanos, because he felt the team was underperforming.

“We have a team right now that, in my opinion, is not playing with the kind of confidence it needs,” Rutherford said. “We probably have a handful of players who are playing to our expectations. That leaves a lot of players who have more to give.”

The Hurricanes entered Wednesday with a record of 12-11-2 and trailing Southeast Division-leading Washington by three points. Carolina plays the Pittsburgh Penguins at home Thursday at 7 p.m.

Rutherford said that he had contemplated a change several times and that the move wasn't based on recent games.

"It's really not about the last four or five games," Rutherford said. "It's about changing to get the chemistry back on our team, to get the confidence back on our team and make what I would say (are) minor adjustments in a system that really worked in the Stanley Cup year. But teams have adjusted to it, and our team hasn't adjusted over the last couple of years."

Maurice said the game had changed in recent years. Before the lockout, teams could play a gritty style like Carolina did in 2002, but that the game became more free-wheeling after the lockout ended. Now, he said, the style of play is more of a "hybrid."

Maurice said he loved his time in North Carolina and seemed thrilled to be back with the franchise. He said he wanted to meet with his players and then start gradually making changes next week.

Rutherford did not commit to this leadership team beyond this season.

“What we’ve done here is we’ve put the structure in place ... this year,” Rutherford said. “We didn’t do any long-term contracts. This is to see what can happen under this structure.”

For example, Francis has not coached before. Francis said Rutherford asked him to make the move to the bench, and he agreed to do that to help the franchise and to see if coaching is of interest to him long-term.

“Jim asked me if this is something I would consider doing,” Francis said. “I’m nervous. I’m excited. There are a lot of emotions. It gives me a chance to explore this avenue, and we’ll see how the season goes.

“As for now, I was asked to do this and thought about it and wanted to give it a try.”

Maurice, 41, was the coach of the Hurricanes when the franchise arrived from Hartford, and he led them to the Stanley Cup finals in 2002, when they lost to Detroit. The Canes couldn’t sustain their success with the gritty, clutch-and-grab style that had served them well in that season, however, and Maurice was fired in December 2003.

Laviolette replaced him and brought a more wide-open style – and a dramatic Stanley Cup title in 2006.

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  • packster56 Dec 4, 12:15 p.m.

    could you imagine lebron james playing hockey? no because he is actually the one who couldn't cut it in a game that involves skill so he went with the NBA the stupidest pro sport ever. If you are tall and some what athletic you are good to go in the NBA. not so with other sports. Any sport where a high school kid can compete is a joke.

  • packster56 Dec 4, 11:55 a.m.

    When I saw this on sportscenter I nearly choked. Seriouwly? Maurice? I can't say that I didn't expect this for Lavy but I never would have thought we would bring back Maurice. I am stoked about bring Francis to the bench though. I think they might be grooming him to take the reigns at head coach.

  • Bassgtrzan Dec 4, 11:51 a.m.

    wiliam... Shut up and Go away!

  • dbobeng Dec 4, 10:58 a.m.

    He said:
    All I'm saying is we could do a lot better around here with the NBA instead of stupid hockey. Hockey can rot in hell as far as I care. The guys that play hockey can only play hockey. The true athletes are in the NFL, NBA and MLB. A lot of these guys can play and be good at more than one sport. Can you imagine Lebron James playing Football? I could never imagine Stahl playing anything but hockey because he is not true athletes. I will be starting a forum and website soon to get rid of the Canes and get the NBA here. I want to watch some real athletes! Not some figure skaters!

    Williamett, please get off the hockey posts if you hate it so much. Ever hear of Darin Erstad, Justin Morneau, Tom Glavine. All played hockey ... many feel Glavine would have been a star in the NHL ... he just decided to be a Hall of Fame pitcher instead. And hockey players not athletes, geez. You try skating at that speed with that skill level. Chess players aren't athletes. Hockey players sure are.

  • mccpry2 Dec 4, 5:33 a.m.

    Dude, if they upgraded Durham- there still wouldn't be any fans. They'd all be shot on the way... View More

    — Posted by MarcoPolo

    Sad, but true.....

  • williamprickett Dec 4, 12:48 a.m.

    All I'm saying is we could do a lot better around here with the NBA instead of stupid hockey. Hockey can rot in hell as far as I care. The guys that play hockey can only play hockey. The true athletes are in the NFL, NBA and MLB. A lot of these guys can play and be good at more than one sport. Can you imagine Lebron James playing Football? I could never imagine Stahl playing anything but hockey because he is not true athletes. I will be starting a forum and website soon to get rid of the Canes and get the NBA here. I want to watch some real athletes! Not some figure skaters!

  • n4dxa Dec 4, 12:24 a.m.

    Looks like william is just the first four letters after the william. Nobody asked that you like hockey, nor should you try to force your idiotology on the rest of us. If anyone should move it should be you. Go get another beer and see if you can think of something sensible to say. It seems that a lot of us are hockey fans.

  • devilishhockeygirl Dec 3, 11:23 p.m.

    Rutherford is as great as they come in regards to GM's (he takes a close second to Lamoriello!)
    Laviolette's firing is long overdue.
    Maurice is a fitting choice for the time being, but Francis will be Head Coach in only a matter of time.
    We are talking about hockey (the games played on AND off the ice!)...this isn't rocket science.
    Rutherford and his decision(s) are the 'Canes only hope for the future...Laviolette is just history.

  • williamprickett Dec 3, 10:59 p.m.

    Tom Suiter another Canes idiot!! The Canes Suck! I see Tom Suiter is not going to be the sports anchor. Great news to me! He is an idiot as well since he covers the Canes too. So long Tom Cat!

  • OriginalTarHeel Dec 3, 10:54 p.m.

    The re-hiring of Maurice is like re-marrying your ex-wife.

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