[Updated] Canes fire Paul Maurice; hire Kirk Muller | Sports
INDY Week's sports blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on | Add on  

Monday, November 28, 2011

[Updated] Canes fire Paul Maurice; hire Kirk Muller

Posted by on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 10:11 AM

"Mo must go," fans chanted last week during another Carolina Hurricanes home loss. Today, Mo went.

At the end of a miserable November, the Hurricanes have dismissed coach Paul Maurice. General manager Jim Rutherford has replaced him with ex-Montreal great Kirk Muller.

This is Muller's first head coaching job at the National Hockey League level.

Muller has been the head coach of the Nashville Predators' AHL affiliate in Milwaukee this season after serving as an assistant coach in Montreal for five years. Credited with architecting the Canadiens' power play that helped oust a powerful Capitals squad from the playoffs two years ago, Muller wasn't destined for the job in Montreal despite having played there. As a player, he won the Stanley Cup with the Habs in 1993, played in six all-star games, and tallied nearly 1,000 points in more than 1,300 games across 19 seasons. He was a strong, two-way center, nicknamed "Captain Kirk" and "Kirk is Work."

His first game will be in Raleigh on Tuesday as the Hurricanes host the Florida Panthers. The Panthers lead the Southeast division. The Canes occupy its cellar.

Coach Paul Maurice is gone. Kirk Muller will replace him.
Last night, the Canes fell behind early in Ottawa and couldn't catch up late, losing 4-3. They scored on only one of eight power plays in the game and let Jason Spezza burn them up the middle several times. It was their third straight loss after summoning some good play for three games after a 4-0 embarrassment in Montreal on Nov. 16 that had the franchise seemingly on the verge of this kind of change they've made today.

Paul Maurice coached 920 games with the Hartford/Carolina franchise. This was his second stint with the team. His defense-first style led the low-scoring Canes to the Stanley Cup finals in 2002, where they fell to the Detroit Red Wings in five games. The Canes missed the playoffs the following season, and won their only cup with Peter Laviolette at the helm in 2006. After a similar dip in fortunes, the Canes tried Maurice again, and his forechecking Canes fought their way to the conference finals in 2009, where the Pittsburgh Penguins swept them. Carolina has not returned to the playoffs since, missing out last season by losing their final game at home to Tampa Bay.

Here's a suggestion for Muller. Take the captain's "C" off Eric Staal's sweater. Let him be just a player. Make Jeff Skinner or even Jay Harrison, who seems to be stepping up in the locker room, another alternate captain and play for a while without a captain. Then, in April, put the "C" on the most appropriate player.

Staal is at a fork in the road of his career, and Muller should grab his steering wheel. Down one path, we will be able to replace Muller's name with Staal's in the career-rundown sentence a couple paragraphs above. Down the other path—the path he's following this season—he will become the one of the storied Staal family that never fulfilled his promise.

A look at the league standings might cause one to utter "The Canes stink," but the fact is, this is not a bad roster of players. Put the roster next to that of all but the top teams and you don't see much of a difference. But there's a spark missing. Erik Cole, departed via free agency to Montreal, might have been that spark. But a coach should be able to change flints. This team is simply not anywhere near as bad as its record.

Another thing worth mentioning about Sunday's loss in Ottawa—Tomas Kaberle was a healthy scratch. Could a trade be imminent? Pierre LeBrun mentioned that Rutherford had been trying to trade Kaberle in an ESPN.com chat with Scott Burnside. GMs scratch players sometimes when a deal is in the last stage of being closed, rather than risk an injury to the player that would scuttle it. But with the paltry numbers Kaberle has put up—along with his hefty price tag ($4.25 million) and term (two more seasons after this one)—what team would want him? Perhaps Philadelphia, a well-heeled team that likes high-profile players and might need a point man for their power play now that Chris Pronger's health has become a question? It is time to wildly speculate about this.

Coincidentally, the Washington Capitals also changed coaches today. Gone is Bruce Boudreau who, along with Maurice, was one of the wittiest men in recent years to stand behind a bench. Former Caps warrior Dale Hunter takes the helm in the nation's capital. Since his retirement in 1999, he's had fantastic success guiding the OHL London Knights for 11 seasons.

Tags: , , , ,

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Sports

Twitter Activity


"Was he known for being rude and abusive to his employees"


Yeah, totally different from the …

by lewiskr451 on An Old Hedge-Fund Billionaire Just Bought the Carolina Panthers, And We’re OK With That (Sports)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

"Was he known for being rude and abusive to his employees"


Yeah, totally different from the …

by lewiskr451 on An Old Hedge-Fund Billionaire Just Bought the Carolina Panthers, And We’re OK With That (Sports)

Class program and congratulations on another championship!

by shocked on Carolina Fans: Villanova Is Your Team, If Only for Tonight (Sports)

AMEN Brother!! Preach on!! …

by Alan Pohoryles on Daniel Snyder and the Redskins’ Culture of Exploitation and Incompetence (Sports)

"In 1838 battle that killed 3,000 Zulus in a single day."

Do you even know what these Zulus were …

by newsupdate24 on A short history of the Dutch in South Africa, 1652-2010 (Sports)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation