Former Isles coach succeeds Maurice
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Coach Paul Maurice was fired Monday by the struggling Carolina Hurricanes in his ninth season, the longest current stretch with one NHL team.
Maurice, who took the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup finals in 2002, was replaced by former New York Islanders coach Peter Laviolette.
"He brings experience and an aggressive coaching style to the Hurricanes," general manager Jim Rutherford said.
The Hurricanes are 8-12-8-2 for 26 points in the Southeast Division. Their next game is Thursday at home against Pittsburgh.
I was surprised it took so long for ownership to fire Paul Maurice. The players seemed to have tuned him out and the results were obvious on the ice. Since the Hurricanes' appearance in the 2002 Stanley Cup finals, their record has been horrendous. In fact, the team has won only 17 games out of the past 80; that's a clear sign the players wanted a change. The hiring of Peter Laviolette is a good idea because he's an aggressive coach. He's already stated that he's going to play an up-tempo style of hockey, which will be similar to what the New York Islanders played when he coached there. Right now, the team seems too content and plays back on its heels all the time. Laviolette should fix that. The Hurricanes aren't out of playoff contention yet. It's still early in the season and Carolina has good goaltending and defense, but it needs Jeff O'Neill to start scoring. O'Neill has only two goals through 30 games after averaging more than 30 the past four seasons. If his production doesn't increase, it won't matter how many coaches the Hurricanes bring in.
Assistant coach Randy Ladoceur and goaltending consultant Don Edwards also are out, Rutherford said. Hurricanes assistant coach Kevin McCarthy and recently retired Carolina forward Jeff Daniels will join Laviolette behind the bench.
Maurice, who coached the franchise for two years when it was in Hartford, is the third NHL coach fired this season. The Florida Panthers dismissed Mike Keenan in November, and the Washington Capitals replaced Bruce Cassidy last week. The Capitals are the only team that trails Carolina in the division.
Laviolette said he wants the Hurricanes to play "a very high-tempo game. I want to get in on the forecheck, bang bodies, get pucks to the net, people to the net and in turn, generate more offense."
"Just a change in general and a new look, a fresh voice and fresh idea could very well be enough on its own," said Laviolette, who received a three-year contract.
Laviolette had 77 wins in two seasons as coach of the Islanders, ranking as the third-winningest coach in team history. He led the team to the playoffs in the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons but was fired after the Islanders' first-round loss to Ottawa.
Carolina had big expectations entering this season.The team acquired Danny Markov, Bob Boughner and Glen Wesley to bolster its defense in the offseason. But the team's offense has been weak. Carolina is last in the NHL with 56 goals or 1.87 a game, one-half the total of the league-leading Detroit Red Wings.
Maurice's leaves the team as the franchise coaching leader in regular-season and playoff wins with 268 and 17.
He became the first coach in franchise history to make it to the Stanley Cup finals when Carolina downed the Toronto Maple Leafs in six games to secure the 2002 Eastern Conference title. The Hurricanes lost to Detroit in the finals.
Under Maurice, the Hurricanes won the Southeast Division in 1999 and 2002 and had four consecutive winning seasons from 1998-02.
Maurice got the coaching job with the Hartford Whalers 12 games into the 1995-96 season. His firing means Ottawa coach Jacques Martin, in his eighth full season with the Senators, now has the longest tenure as a head coach of one team in the league.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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