Ron Francis isn’t wasting any time putting his stamp on the Carolina Hurricanes.
One week after he was named the team’s new general manager, Francis fired coach Kirk Muller and his assistant coaches John MacLean and Dave Lewis. The Hurricanes also reassigned Goaltending Coach Greg Stefan to the pro scouting department.
Assistant Coach Rod Brind’Amour remains with the team. Say, didn’t he used to play with Ron Francis …
“We thank Kirk, John and Dave for their time and effort during the past three seasons,” said Francis in a statement. “Kirk and his staff worked very hard, but we feel that the team is in need of a fresh start at this time.”
Muller was a star assistant coach when former GM Jim Rutherford hired him in Nov. 2011 to replace Paul Maurice. He was credited with orchestrating the defensive system and special teams wizardry that allowed the Montreal Canadiens to shock the Washington Capitals as a No. 8 seed in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was a progressive coach in his use of video and was seen as a quintessential players coach as a 19-year NHLer.
He lacked head coaching experience, with just two months of seasoning with the AHL Milwaukee Admirals, which is why former Detroit Red Wings head coach Dave Lewis was retained as an assistant coach. MacLean, who was briefly the bench boss in New Jersey and a former teammate of Muller’s, was later added to the staff.
Muller has a record of 80-80-27 during three seasons with Carolina, and the bloom was off the rose. The Hurricanes missed the postseason all three times – two seasons with one of the worst goals against averages in the NHL, and then in Muller’s final season an offense that drooped to 23rd in the League.
Like Adam Oates with the Capitals, it’ll be interesting to see if Muller gets another look as a head coach or if he’s more effective (and alluring as a candidate) as an assistant coach.
The Hurricanes, Predators, Canucks, Capitals and Panthers are all looking for head coaches; the Toronto Maple Leafs have yet to make a decision on theirs, while it’s looking like Todd McLellan might be safe in San Jose.
Is this the part where we mention that Ron Francis has played for Peter Laviolette? Or that he played with Kevin Dineen?
Honestly, though: Wouldn’t John Tortorella work in that market and with the hustling, blue-collar players that Hurricanes already have on the roster? A lot of hard-workin' Americans there. Well, OK, that Russian guy would have to go. Too much skill for Torts.