by PuckStopsHere on 12/04/08 at 03:20 PM ET
It was announced yesterday that the Carolina Hurricanes fired coach Peter Laviolette. This is in response to Carolina starting the season with a 12-13 record (with two regulation tie points). The surprising part of the announcement is that the new coach will be Paul Maurice. Maurice was the Carolina coach prior to Laviolette. He was fired during the 2003/04 season to allow for Laviolette’s hiring. He returns to the Carolina organization after a two year coaching stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There is no reason to imagine coaching was the problem in Carolina. They have a team I predicted to finish 9th in the East Conference and are on track for about that kind of finish (currently they sit in 8th). It looks as though Carolina GM Jim Rutherford wanted to do something to jump start the team and he couldn’t find any worthwhile player transactions (trades or otherwise) so he fired the coach. It’s a bit of a desperation move. When it looks like something needs to be done, but there is no other available move, you fire the coach.
Peter Laviolette had recently passed ex-Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella as the winningest American-born coach ever. Laviolette has 244 career wins and Tortorella 239. It will be interesting to see which of the two gets another head coaching position first to continue to move up the all time wins list. Clearly that achievement was not a reason to keep his job. Neither was his 2006 Stanley Cup victory.
Paul Maurice coached the Hartford Whaler/ Carolina Hurricane organization from 1995 until he was fired in the 2003/04 season. He had a good working arrangement with Jim Rutherford, who was the GM during his entire reign. Rutherford chose to bring him back instead of try a new coach. This implies that Maurice’s firing probably was as arbitrary as the Laviolette one (don’t worry Peter in 2012 or so it will be your turn to coach the team again). Paul Maurice is probably about as good a coach as anyone else available and he has experience working with Rutherford. Maurice’s reputation has suffered a bit in the meantime due to his Toronto tenure (it would have been hard for any coach to succeed with that team).
In all likelihood, Maurice is a temporary coach for the Hurricanes. It is thought that Ron Francis might be installed as the head coach next summer. If that is the case and Maurice is quickly known as a lame duck coach, look for Carolina to fall out of the playoff race during the stretch run.
The Carolina Hurricanes fired their coach. It seems this is a move brought on in desperation to try to get the team to exceed expectations. It is interesting that Carolina’s new coach is actually their old coach. If this move is to install a lame duck temporary coach in Paul Maurice, things could get ugly this season in Carolina. Let’s hope that Jim Rutherford’s plans are better thought out than that.
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