Who says the NHL isn’t into recycling? Not the Carolina Hurricanes, that’s for sure.
The Canes dipped into their past Wednesday, hiring former coach Paul Maurice to replace the newly-fired Peter Laviolette behind the bench.
Maurice spent the initial portion of his NHL coaching career with the Carolina/Hartford franchise, amassing a 268-307-99 record and one trip to the Stanley Cup final in eight years with the organization. After Carolina dismissed him in 2004, the 41-year-old became the bench boss of the Maple Leafs in 2006 and won a career-best 40 regular season games in his first year with Toronto.
Maurice’s tenure with the Leafs was unceremonious, as he failed to make the playoffs in two seasons and was dismissed at the conclusion of the 2007-08 campaign. His total NHL coaching record stands at 344-357-99-38.
Maurice’s close friendship with Carolina GM Jim Rutherford is no secret, which is why many will presume he got a second kick at the Canes’ can.
But it’s also apparent that Maurice’s laid-back personality is in direct opposition to that of the fiery Laviolette – who led Carolina to its first Stanley Cup in 2006, but who also missed the post-season in three of his four years as Canes coach – and hiring someone with a philosophy that’s drastically different than the outgoing skipper is one of the oldest plays in the management book.
Maurice inherits a team that likely will battle for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, but also one that has been hampered by injuries to key players (Justin Williams, Tim Gleason) and underwhelming performances from stars Eric Staal and Cam Ward.
The players will find the day-to-day environment of the team easier to deal with under Maurice, but the pressure to salvage the season will only increase now that Laviolette has been made the fall guy.
Laviolette, meanwhile, joins a prestigious, hard-nosed group of employment-seeking coaches with an NHL championship on their resume that includes John Tortorella, Bob Hartley and Marc Crawford.
He signed a five-year extension with Carolina in 2006, so he won’t be hurting for money. But with so many similar-minded colleagues on the market, it may be a while before Laviolette returns to the league.
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