Is Carolina kidding? They fire Peter Laviolette after the Canes jump out to a 12-11-2 start. Am I missing something here? They’re THREE POINTS back of the division lead! THREE! In THAT division! Do you realize how easy it is to make up three points when you’re playing the Panthers, Lightning and Thrashers 18 times a year?
The fact that the ‘Canes are underperforming this year is hardly Laviolette’s fault. There are the injuries to Justin Williams and David Tanabe that have kept them out since the end of September, there’s Eric Staal’s hideous performance so far this season (he’s had exactly two multiple-goal games this season), there’s the fact that the team, on paper, is pretty goddamn bad. I mean, look at that roster. What’s anyone supposed to do with that? And yet they’re still a game above .500 because Laviolette is a damn good coach.
And the replacement is Paul Maurice? The guy that wasn’t good enough to get a Maple Leafs team like the one they had two years ago into the playoffs? The guy that Carolina already FIRED? He isn’t a good coach. He just isn’t. He’s had losing seasons in seven of his 10 in the NHL. You don’t call a guy like that and offer him a job, regardless of the fact that he helped take your team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2001-02. It’s ridiculous. What, was Jacques Demers not available?
In the hopes that it’s not too late to squeeze Maurice out, I have composed a list of five better candidates for the job.
1) John Tortorella
You want success? This guy’s won a Stanley Cup! Honest! He also has the second-most wins for an American-born NHL coach behind Laviolette. It’s perfect. Plus, he’s kind of a dick and certainly wouldn’t put up with the crap from Eric Staal. Who doesn’t want a guy like that hanging around? He also doesn’t wear pretentious glasses like that nerd Maurice, who is a giant nerd because of his glasses. Also, you have a much greater chance of Tortorella calling Rod Brind’Amour a “jerkoff” in front of the media. I don’t know why, I just get the feeling that he would.
2) Ted Nolan
Lookit this Glamour Shot! How can you not want this man coaching for your team? Plus, since he coached the Islanders the last two years, he has experience dealing with teams full of mediocre veterans who don’t seem to like eachother very much AND incompetent management. Come on, Hurricanes, this sounds a lot like you. Ted Nolan isn’t the worst coach in the world, certainly, and the reason he was kicked off the Island was because he didn’t care for Garth Snow’s plan to develop the farm system. In Carolina, they barely even have a farm. A match made in heaven.
3) Rod Brind’Amour
It’s been a while since we had a good ol’ fashioned player-coach in the NHL and Rod the Bod’s been around long enough that everyone would at least respect his opinion despite his complete lack of experience. It worked for Gretzky, right? Publicity stunt? Sure. A little unwise? You bet. But Brind’Amour has something over that pencil-necked geek Maurice: he could beat the hell out of any player that ever disagreed with him. That would rule.
4) One of those genius kids that graduates from Harvard at age 10
How has no one thought of this yet? If they can do quantum physics and get into Princeton at seven years old, they can coach the Hurricanes into the playoffs. No problem. Their knowledge of pretty much everything and total lack of social skills makes these kids shockingly similar to Maurice, except the kids have knowledge. Plus, children in suits sure are adorable. And the plays they draw up on would also feature an inspiring smiling sun and a stick figure of Eric Staal holding hands with his mom. That’d get everyone in the room going.
5) A sponge
It already has Paul Maurice’s charisma and hockey knowledge, and all you’d have to do is draw Maurice’s patented “I am gravely disappointed in this team” face that he sported so many times behind the Leafs’ bench last year on it. I defy anyone to tell the difference.