There is a lot of conjecture around the Caniac Nation concerning the current state of the Carolina Hurricanes. All hope is not yet lost, but the team seems to be doing an excellent job of playing it's way out of a playoff berth in just the opening month or two of the season.
General Manager Jim Rutherford recently spoke about how he was to blame because he re-signed so many veteran players. He pointed the finger directly at himself for the team's woeful performance this season. But as with most situations regarding a team, there is plenty of blame to go around.
News and Observer columnist Luke DeCock recently wrote an article saying that it was baffling why Rutherford never mentioned head coach Paul Maurice during the "blame game" press conference. But is it really so baffling?
The Carolina general manager probably went out of his way to shield his coach from any blame. Maurice is just a month and change into a three year deal. It's a bit early to be throwing him under the bus. Forget the fact that the coach and GM are best friends and the sweet smell of last season's success is probably still in the air at 1400 Edwards Mill Road.
Financially speaking it would be difficult because the team is still paying Peter Laviolette. If they fired Maurice, they would be paying two coaches not to coach the team.
Still, the beginning of this season is like "de ja vu" all over again for some fans. The year before Maurice was originally fired, the Hurricanes finished dead last in the league and scored the fewest goals the NHL. (sound familiar?) The December he was fired, the team started out much like it did before.
Laviolette was primarily brought in to inject some offensive fire into the team, which he managed to do. He ended up being fired after missing the playoffs two years in a row, and starting out with a 12-11-2 record last season.
At the present time, the Canes have a 2-9-3 record, with 10 losses in a row.
Is Maurice blameless in this debacle? Of course not. Some would say he has mismanaged the goalie situation by continuing to play Cam Ward in repeated back to back situations, then throwing Michael Leighton into action under less than favorable circumstances.
Cam Ward played in 25 plus consecutive games near the end of last season, plus all throughout the playoffs. When was the last time Michael Leighton actually started a game? It's been awhile.
The coaching staff as a whole has not been able to fix an ailing powerplay, which scored at an abysmal 10% clip during the playoffs last season and is still struggling so far this year. There seems to be chemistry issues on this team, especially on defense, (Ward and Pitkanen), and the forward lines have been constantly shuffled and are inconsistent.
But the problems are not all coaching, there is enough blame to be passed around throughout the entire organization. Of course, the players themselves are mostly responsible.
The biggest question is, can Paul Maurice right the ship and turn this thing around? Can he solve the scoring problems which have plagued the team? Can he help to create some chemistry and common purpose in the locker room? Maybe most importantly, is he the right coach to be developing the team's propects when they come up through the system?
If you look at his past track record, he has had mixed results. Regardless, it seems like Jim Rutherford has made his bed with this coach, at least for now. And it would not baffle me at all to see Maurice here for quite some time, win or lose.