Here's some opinions on the Laviolette firing/Maurice hiring from around the league:
Bob Sutton at Burlington, N.C.'s The Times-News:
Looking for the good ol' days won't be easy. Conveniently, Maurice is referred to by the team as the winningest coach in franchise history. Left out of that information is that he's also the losingest coach.
But general manager Jim Rutherford surveyed the situation and decided that Maurice's steady hand would be the best approach for a team that he's convinced is comprised of the elements that should make waves in the NHL.
Damien Cox at the Toronto Star:
That said, it really does make some sense for Rutherford to put Maurice back behind the Canes bench. He believed Maurice was a good coach when he fired him in December 2003, and he still believes he's a good coach.
Luke DeCock at Raleigh, N.C.'s News & Observer:
The last time Rutherford went out of his comfort zone to hire a coach, the Canes ended up winning the Stanley Cup, but he apparently never considered anyone but his good friend Maurice to replace Laviolette.
Rutherford may be right about Maurice. After all, if being a general manager were easy, any fan could do it. Just because fans are angry doesn't mean they're right. And Maurice coached only four players on the current roster, so his message should be fresh.
But if the Canes fail to make the playoffs for a third year in a row, the long-term financial consequences could be dire. There's a lot more riding on this move than friendship.
Pierre LeBrun at ESPN.com:
The key in all of this, however, might be Ron Francis. The Hall of Fame player-turned-assistant GM of the Hurricanes was named associate coach to Maurice. The title wasn't by mistake. Normally, a head coach gets assistant coaches. Francis, however, will be more than your average assistant.
"These two guys will work very close together heading up the coaching staff," Rutherford said.
It's pure speculation on our part, but we think, whether it's one, two or three years down the road, Francis eventually will be the head coach of this team. In any case, this coaching arrangement is guaranteed only for the remainder of this season.
Adam Gold at 850 The Buzz:
What I do know is that this hire is a public relations nightmare that will turn out disasterous if Maurice and Francis don’t get this team into the playoffs. That is the only way that this is going to be judged. If this team doesn’t play beyond the 82 game-schedule than this was a monumental waste of time and money. The fans never loved Maurice as much as Rutherford and Peter Karmanos did — heck, they think of Paul as a member of the family.
And, the very last word I’d use to describe Hurricanes fans today would be "excited." Bewildered, confused or stupefied would be more accurate. And, bewildered, confused and stupefied fans don’t buy more tickets.
This is an enormous risk being taken by the 2-time Hockey News Executive of the Year. For the sake of franchise and their fragile attendence in this economy, I hope it works out.
Joe Ovies at 850 The Buzz:
Worst of all, the Canes are the butt of "sloppy seconds" jokes that are all the rage thanks to Sean Avery. An already dwindling crowd at the arena has threatened to give up on their season tickets. Worse for Rutherford, Laviolette has gone from a scapegoat that was justifiably canned to a pseudo-victim that was only doing what he could with an aging squad not built for the style that brought success in 2005-2006. Now the angst shifts from the exiting coach to the guy higher up the food chain.
That Rutherford would go back to Maurice, recently fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs, is no surprise. The two worked famously together and remained friends even after parting ways professionally.
The last thing Rutherford wanted to do five years ago was fire his coach, but not unlike now realized a change had to be made. It didn't make Maurice a bad coach, it was just time.
And while his stay in Toronto was not a huge success, Maurice will be a good fit for the Hurricanes because he is on the same page as Rutherford, the roster is decidedly different, and he will be good in that market.
Remember, selling tickets is important in Carolina and Maurice will help in that regard, especially if he gets the team turned around. While his coaching abilities were questioned in Toronto, truth is he is a good coach. A lot of things conspired in Toronto to make some good hockey people look bad.
Chris Coletta & Jeff Drew at Triangle Business Journal:
The Hurricanes have not posted a profit since their Stanley Cup run in 2006, Triangle Business Journal reported in September. This off-season, the Canes agreed to a five-year lease extension for the RBC Center in exchange for $1.25 million in financial assistance from the Centennial Authority — the agency that runs the Raleigh arena.
Dave Droschak at CarolinaHurricanes.com:
That leads us to the present day, where an older and much wiser Maurice, now 41 and having been through the meat-grinder that NHL coaches call Toronto, has replaced 2006 Stanley Cup champion Peter Laviolette. Too few goals and even fewer consistent efforts led to the dismissal of Lavy as we enter December, a scenario that’s all too familiar for a guy like Maurice, who must wake up in the middle of the night on occasion to the chants of 'Mo Must Go.'
Do second marriages work?
Maurice was a safe call, a guy who agreed for the moment to help one if his best friends – Rutherford – jump-start a team that appeared to lack motivation and the drive to take it to the next level. With no promises of future years behind the bench, Maurice was willing to return to the birthplace of his three children and continue as Raleigh’s hockey ambassador before his time expired with the Canes in December 2003.
John Forslund at WRALSportsFan.com:
It is that lack of security in the guy calling the shots by those directing the shots that has led us to this day. The Canes could have gone in all kinds of directions. A past associate coach or current assistant could have switched offices. A new voice from the unemployed ranks like a John Tortorella could have been brought in. An AHL bench boss with a tie-in - like Kevin Dineen - could have been beckoned too. But no, this was about comfort and getting on the same page with the upper management with regard to "how" the Canes play.
Management and coaches need to been on the same page. For that reason and for that alone this one makes sense. The hiring of Paul Maurice provides the GM with that comfort zone, that in the opinion of this observer was starting to slip. The switch of roles by Ron Francis will give him a chance to learn about this racket without taking on the whole enchilada a la Wayne Gretzky.
Will it work ? Who knows. They only thing we do know is that this group of players played down enough for the Canes to lose a very good coach. Paul Maurice is a respected coach too. I know many of you automatically go back to the days of clutch and grab and say his style won't fit. Well, I'm not sure that's how they are going to play. I do know that he is capable of fixing their defensive system. That will be good. Most importantly all counter productive thoughts are gone. This has been a long time coming and now the Canes can move forward.
James Mirtle at From The Rink at SBNation.com:
Maurice was very popular in Toronto with the media, but his teams simply underperformed on the ice and were awful defensively and on the penalty kill. It's going to be interesting to see what he can coax out of the Hurricanes, who have a hodgepodge on defence and a real problem putting the puck in the net.
I don't think they make the playoffs.
UPDATE Also, I think this is really setting the table for Francis to take over as coach in the near future.
A coaching change is supposed to infuse new life. A coaching change is supposed to embarrass the players and make them step up. And it's supposed to rekindle hope in the fan base. Yup, I can't wait till that Pittsburgh game tomorrow night...Oooh, wait a second...looks like there's a five-day old replay of a college cross country meet on the Big Ten Network.
I finally manage to have some time (new job has been exciting so far, but it takes all my time)…and the Hurricanes decide to bring a huge step BACKWARD and bring back Paul bloody Maurice.
And I’ve started smoking again. Don’t tell my doctor.