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Tracking the Storm

Tweetmail No. 14: Coaching and Fresh Starts

Wednesday, 05.07.2014 / 10:00 AM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Tweetmail No. 14: Coaching and Fresh Starts
Answering your Twitter questions about all things coaching and fresh starts.
Michael Smith
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Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully, the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.

Let’s get to it.

Who are the major candidates for the head coaching job? – Brendan (@gwarfan37)

Not surprisingly, this – or some variant – was the question of the week. I’m not going to be able to answer it definitively, though, because I simply don’t know who Ron Francis is considering. In fact, Francis said in Monday’s media availability that he didn’t have any one person in mind but would start with a short list and move forward from there.

As for what Francis is looking for in his new bench boss, he had this to say: “The biggest thing I’m looking for is a guy that’s a teacher,” he said. “You have to be accountable as a player, and having someone in that position that holds them accountable wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

Here’s a quick list of some notable and available names with previous NHL head coaching experience: Barry Trotz, John Tortorella, Kevin Dineen, Peter Laviolette, Ron Wilson, John Stevens and Terry Murray. Then there are names like Ulf Samuelsson, Phil Housley, Rod Brind’Amour and Jeff Daniels who have coaching experience as an assistant in the NHL or as the head boss in the AHL.

Where it goes from here is anyone’s best guess, but the search is indeed open.

Say Francis doesn’t hire a coach by the Draft. At what point in the summer does he absolutely need a coach in place? – Liz O. (@emohrberg)

Before we get to the hypothetical answer, let’s first note that Francis, in his Monday media availability, said he would like to have a new head coach in place by the 2014 NHL Draft, which takes place June 27-28 in Philadelphia. It’s not that the head coach has input in who the team drafts – he doesn’t, really – but getting that person in place as soon as possible is ideal.

With that said, in the unlikely scenario that a coach is not in place by the Draft, hiring someone by the Canes’ annual prospects development camp in mid-July would be a top priority.

In reality, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new head coach introduced before the end of May.

What is your favorite memory from the Muller era? – Mason L. (@MasonLyttle)

Nearly three months after I started this job with the Canes as their web producer, the team underwent a coaching change. It’s something for which, even if it had been trending in that direction, you can’t prepare yourself. Behind the scenes, there are a lot of moving pieces and, at times, a lot of uncertainty.

Ultimately, Muller was tapped as the head coach and was introduced at a press conference later that evening. That, combined with the fresh-faced exuberance he expressed to one of the larger media contingents in Raleigh after the morning skate the next day is something I still remember.

Aside from his first days with the club, it was always fun to casually chat with him after the camera lights turned off and the recording lights stopped blinking. He had a wide-ranging career and collected an amalgam of nuggets along the way. Sometimes it seemed like he had shared the ice with every veteran player in the league at one point or another.

Perhaps buried in the hubbub of Monday’s coaching change was the fact that three good people lost their jobs. Unfortunately, that’s the business, but I’m glad I got the pleasure to speak with Muller, Dave Lewis and John MacLean on a fairly regular basis, and I wish them all the best in the future.

Do you see the “fresh start” Francis mentioned as a total rebuild or a minor retooling of the roster? – David S. (@dshort_0610)

I don’t see it as either, really, and here’s why.

In my eyes, the Canes iced one of their best teams in recent history, sheer talent-wise, in 2013-14. For this reason or that, something that has been extensively scrutinized, the team missed the playoffs by 10 points.

Since then, Jim Rutherford stepped aside as general manager, a position he held for 20 years and a decision he said was inevitable despite the season’s outcome, and Francis was tapped as the team’s new GM. A week later, he relieved Muller, MacLean and Lewis of their coaching duties in his first major move. Now, the roster is going to be examined.

“Just because we change coaches doesn’t mean that everything is status quo in the locker room,” Francis said in Monday’s media availability. “We do need to evaluate that.”

I don’t think this team is in need of a total rebuild, and I don’t believe Francis does either.

“I think there are good pieces in the locker room,” he said. “Talent-wise, I think we’re capable of competing.”

That said, I think everything is under consideration – from the organization’s philosophy on drafting players, to how the organization develops players, to what kind of team the Canes put together, to the very make-up of that team – for the first time in some time. This could certainly lead to more than a minor retool.

And that’s the nexus of this fresh start: examining every facet of the organization with a careful and critical eye with the goal of building a team that is successful in the long term.

***

Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you’d like answered, please do reach out to me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes.



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 64 41 18 5 172 142 87
2 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
3 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
11 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61