Paul Maurice’s second go-round as the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes turned out as well as his first – he was fired.
Hurricanes president and general manager Jim Rutherford dropped the axe on Maurice, 44, making him the second NHL coach to be fired on Monday morning. The Washington Capitals dumped Bruce Boudreau a couple of hours earlier.
The U.S. Thanksgiving holiday is traditionally the time NHL GMs take stock of their teams and decide if moves need to be made. Rutherford said it was “unfortunate” he had to fire his good friend Maurice for a second time but the Hurricanes did not show any signs of coming out of a slide that saw them lose 11 of their past 15 games. The Canes are last in the Eastern Conference with an 8-13-4 record.
Kirk Muller, 45, is Maurice’s replacement. This will be Muller’s first job as an NHL head coach. He is currently the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals, which is the farm team for the Nashville Predators. Before that, Muller was an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens.
“It's unfortunate,” Rutherford told the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. “But we need to see if we can get back into it with this, or if we need to change some more players.”
While Maurice was the longest-serving coach in franchise history, with a 384-391-145 record in 920 games, he was never able to get the best out of the team. The Hurricanes’ only Stanley Cup came in 2006 after Maurice’s first run was over and Peter Laviolette was brought in as head coach in December, 2003.
After Laviolette was fired on Dec. 3, 2008, Maurice, who was hired and fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the interim, was brought back as coach. But the best he got out of the team was an appearance in the Eastern Conference final in 2009. Maurice did take the Hurricanes to the 2002 Stanley Cup final in his first term as coach, where the Detroit Red Wings won in five games.
Muller, who won a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1993 during a long career as a player, is considered one of the best coaching prospects in hockey.
“Kirk is a proven leader and motivator, and he has strong communication skills,” Rutherford said in a news release about Muller. “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.”