Paul Maurice was fired by the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes for the second time on Nov. 28 and has been replaced by former six-time all-star Kirk Muller, who enjoyed a 19-year career with the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, and Florida Panthers. This will be Muller’s first crack at coaching an NHL team. He was on the coaching staff of the Canadiens for five years and was the current coach of the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL when Carolina hired him.

The Hurricanes were sitting in second-last place in the Eastern Conference at the time of the announcement with a record of 8-13-4, good for 20 points. The team has also lost 10 out of its past 13 contests and has only made the postseason once since 2006. However, the club is only five points out of a playoff spot and general manager Jim Rutherford decided to make a move now before it was too late and while they’re still within striking distance of a postseason spot.

Rutherford said the 45-year-old Muller’s a proven motivator and leader with superb communication skills and the club’s confident that he can turn it fortunes around in the near future. Maurice had some company though as the Washington Capitals also changed head coaches on Nov. 28 when Bruce Boudreau was let go. He will be replaced by Dale Hunter, who was the head coach of the London Knights OHL junior team. Since last spring, four out of the five teams in the Southeast Division have now replaced their coaches.

Muller scored 357 goals and added 602 assists for 959 points in 1349 regular season games and added 33 goals and 36 assists in 127 playoff contests. He was the second-overall selection in the 1984 draft and won the Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1993. He retired as a member of the Dallas Stars after the 2002/03 season. Muller’s first job with the Hurricanes will be to try and cut down on their goals against as their goals-against-average of 3.24 ranks 28th in the 30-team league. He also needs to revive the powerplay which is scoring on just 12.2 per cent of their opportunities and is one of the worst in the league.

The 44-year-old Maurice was hired the first time by the Hurricanes in 1995/96 when the franchise was known as the Hartford Whalers. He spent nine seasons there and missed the playoffs the first three years and five times altogether. He took the team to the Stanley Cup final in 2001/02, but lost and was then fired during the 2003/04 season.

Maurice was then hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006/07 and missed the playoffs two years running before he was fired. He rejoined Carolina in 2008/09 and lost in the conference finals before missing the playoffs the next two seasons.

He’s made the playoffs just four times in 14 NHL seasons. His overall record with Carolina was 384-391-145 with his career record being 460-457-167. However, Maurice does hold Carolina’s coaching record of 25 playoff wins. The club failed to make the postseason last year when they lost at home in the final game of the season to Tampa Bay.


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