If the playoffs started today, the Carolina Hurricanes would be in them. As of this morning, Coach Peter Laviolette would not.
Darren Dreger of TSN breaks the news that Laviolette is, like so many other Americans, now looking for work:
Sources tell TSN the Carolina Hurricanes have fired head coach Peter Laviolette and in a unique about face, have replaced him with former Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice.
This move comes amid weeks of speculation of change in Carolina and the teams' battle with consistency with Laviolette at the helm.
Laviolette, last month, surpassed John Tortorella to become the winningest American born coach in NHL history with his 240th victory. Laviolette was hired by the Hurricanes in December of 2003 after Maurice was fired just 30 games in to the season.
The Hurricanes will be streaming their "major announcement" on their Web site at 11:30.
The Hurricanes' offense has dipped from 3.02 goals per game last season down to 2.52 goals per game so far in 2008-09. The Hurricanes' personal numbers include some absolute stunners: In what hockey Twilight Zone does Rod Brind'Amour have a minus-18 and Eric Staal have just two points more than Dennis Seidenberg in December?
So Maurice takes over again, as he previously coached the team for nine seasons (included two as the Whale) and one Stanley Cup finals appearance. While his selection initially smacks of safety and hesitant comfort from Hurricanes management, he's a damn good coach and one of the best available. It's a smart move, but it's fair to say that Maurice also has his critics and doesn't exactly make the Hurricanes a lock for a postseason berth. (The Southeast Division, on the other hand, probably does.)
Also a damn good coach: Laviolette. Unless he wants a break, he's going to find a job in this League in a hurry. His coaching job in Carolina is seriously underappreciated, squeezing out successful seasons from oft-injured rosters and questionable decisions by management.
He's not perfect, and the writing was on the wall for his dismissal; but is this team's middling success his fault? The comments on Lord Stanley's Blog seem to place the blame on management.