Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/28/11 at 01:39 PM ET
The Carolina Hurricanes have fired head coach Paul Maurice and replaced him with former Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Kirk Muller.
Muller, who spent five seasons with the Canadiens as an assistant under Guy Carbonneau, Bob Gainey and Jacques Martin, joined the Nashville Predators this season as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.
The Hurricanes have struggled in the first quarter of the season, sitting last in the Southeast Division with an 8-13-4 record.
added 12:09pm, Official Carolina release below…
RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that Kirk Muller has been named the team’s new head coach. Muller had been serving as the head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. He will be introduced at a news conference later this afternoon. Details regarding the news conference will follow in a separate advisory.
“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, 45, becomes the 12th person to serve as head coach for the franchise, and the third to be head coach since the team relocated to North Carolina in 1997. The Kingston, Ont., native had a record of 10-6-0 with Milwaukee this season, after taking the job as head coach for the Nashville Predators’ top affiliate in July 2011. Prior to joining the Admirals, Muller spent five seasons as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens, helping the Habs reach the playoffs four consecutive seasons. He also has experience as a head coach with the Queen’s University Golden Gaels, and an assistant for Team Canada in the 2005 Lotto Cup and the 2006 Under-18 World Championship. Current Hurricanes alternate captain Brandon Sutter was a member of that 2006 Under-18 World Championship team.
As a player, Muller totaled 357 goals and 602 assists (959 points) in 1,349 career NHL games over 19 seasons with the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars. He skated in 127 career Stanley Cup playoff games, totaling 69 points (33g, 36a), including the Stanley Cup-clinching goal for the Canadiens in the 1993 Stanley Cup Final. He also reached the Final with Dallas in 2000, when the Stars fell to New Jersey.
A six-time NHL All-Star, Muller posted 30-or-more goals five times in his career, 20-or-more goals nine times, and had seven 70-point seasons. He established career highs with New Jersey in 1987-88 and Montreal in 1992-93, totaling 37 goals, 57 assists and 94 points in each of those seasons. Muller served as captain for both the Devils (1989-91) and the Canadiens (1994-95).
Prior to turning professional, Muller played junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for Kingston and Guelph, and represented Canada at the 1984 Olympic Games. He made his NHL debut for New Jersey straight out of junior hockey in 1984, after the Devils selected him second overall in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, behind only Mario Lemieux. In addition to the 1984 Olympics, Muller also represented Canada at four World Championships (1985, 1986, 1987, 1989) and at the 1984 World Junior Championship.
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