It's been a busy day at 1400 Edward Mills Road. One coach was fired, another was re-hired, and one Hall of Fame player was "promoted" to associate coach. The changes start another new chapter for the franchise, even if the hiring of Maurice seems like a step back in time for many fans.
The firing of Peter Laviolette was entirely an internal matter. For the most past, "Lavi" still had the support of the fanbase. At least there was no public campaign by Caniacs to get rid of him, like there was when Maurice was fired back in 2003. ("Mo Must Go")
Apparently, Jim Rutherford had reached his limit and decided to make a move on Monday when he made his initial contact with the ex-Hurricanes and Maple Leafs coach. Many fans are probably asking themselves, why Maurice?
When Rutherford decided to make his move, he had a few options.
First of all, he could have moved Tom Rowe over to the position. Supposedly, management was high on Rowe and very pleased with the the job he did in Albany. Many pundits thought that Rowe was given the assistant coaching job so there would be an easy transition if the Canes did end up firing Laviolette. Did Rowe turn down an offer, or did Hurricanes management change their minds?
Other options included Ron Francis or Jeff Daniels, although neither of them have any NHL coaching experience. Hiring one of them would have been a huge risk.
Who else was left? If the Hurricanes went "outside the family", they would have had to sign someone for a fairly long-term contract and for reasonable money. Paul Maurice agreed to come here for the remainder of the season. No one else would have agreed to those terms.
Another advantage to hiring Maurice is that he and Rutherford think along the same lines. Maurice is a loyal company man, to the end. Unlike Laviolette, he will do whatever Jim Rutherford requests while in the head coaching office.
Is this change going to work? Can it work?
Who knows, but the move today certainly opens up a can of questions for this franchise.
Will Maurice end up staying long-term if the team makes the playoffs?
Is Ron Francis being groomed to be the eventual head coach?
If the team fails to make the playoffs, what's next? A different head coach, the third one in less than a year?
Will Maurice try to make defensive thinking players out of offensive blueliners, Joni Pitkanen, Joe Corvo, and Frank Kaberle?
Will the team respond positively, or negatively?
Will the team revert back to the defensive first, trapping system that Maurice employed during his first tenure?
One major change has been instituted already. The Canes will be returning to the ice for pregame skates, effective tomorrow at 10AM.