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Maurice: Canes not writing off the season

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The reporter from Montreal admitted he wasn't quite sure how to properly phrase his question in English today to Canes coach Paul Maurice. The gist of it: was this season a "write-off" at this point?

"No, no, we don't feel that way," Maurice said. "That will never be a decision that we make.

"We've got a fair number of our kids up anyway. ... We're playing as hard as we can to win, we're playing (hard) every night and we've been playing pretty darn well for a month. We certainly don't have an awful lot to show for it, but absolutely not.

"We don't look at it that way. We also don't look at the standings because it doesn't make you feel very good."

Others in the Montreal media, like many in the league, posed the same questions again to Maurice. In short, what's gone wrong this season? How can a team seen as a possible Stanley Cup contender in preseason be sitting last in the league?

"There's no one (thing)," Maurice said. "I thought for a long stretch it was more the guys who were playing hurt that were a problem for us.

"Clearly you can't lose your key guys as often as we have and expect to be leading your division. but we've had guys playing through an awful lot of stuff and that's been a real challenge for us, no question."

Maurice said losing goaltender Cam Ward to the leg laceration was a big blow in that backup Michael Leighton "came in and struggled a little bit" and the Canes had to sign Manny Legace. Leighton later was claimed off re-entry waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers.

Injuries also have knocked Eric Staal, Erik Cole, Joni Pitkanen, Tim Gleason and Niclas Wallin out of the lineup at various points in the season.

"Any one injury can't be an excuse for the season," Maurice said. "But we clearly missed Cam and I think Eric's battled all year -- out of the lineup but even prior to that. He's back putting some numbers up and scoring, but still I don't think he's ... right at his A game."

Staal and Sergei Samsonov had a "maintenance day" and missed Tuesday's practice. Both are expected to play against the Canadiens.

Gleason returned Monday for the Rangers game after missing three games with concussion-type symptoms, and Wallin may be back Wednesday for the Canadiens.

"He's pretty close," said Maurice, who said a decision on Wallin would be made after Wednesday's morning skate.

The Canes will take a two-day Christmas break after Wednesday's game. On Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers will be in town -- with new head coach Peter Laviolette and assistant Kevin McCarthy behind the bench, and possibly Leighton in goal. Flyers goalie Brian Boucher cut a finger Monday against the Florida Panthers and was forced to leave the game, bringing in Leighton.

"It's a fun week," forward Matt Cullen said. "Obviously everyone looks forward to Christmas but we've got some business to take care of before that. These games right now are too important for us to get caught up in anything else.

"We'll be focused tomorrow and ready for that game."



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The Necessary House Cleaning

I think sometime between the end of the holiday trade freeze and the actual trade deadline, Jim Rutherford will move as many of the older veterans as he can.
Players who I predict will not be returning, whether by trade or by not being re-signed will include some fan favorites and some more disfavored players. In my view players whose contracts expire this season and who are likely to be traded or not re-signed:
(1) Aaron Ward; (2) Wallin; (3) Conboy; (4) Michael Ryan; (5) Walker; (6) Yelle.
Players whose contracts expire this season and might be re-signed, but who are also the subject of trade rumors include: (1) Cullen and (2) Whitney. I think Rutherford will try to sign Whitney to a one year extension over the Olympic Break and if he cannot, he will trade Whitney during the trade deadline (with Whitney waiving his No Trade Clause (NTC)). Cullen I think will be traded despite Cullen's speed, skill, and determination. Cullen will help a contender to the playoffs and in return the Hurricanes could get a puck-moving, scoring defenseman; or as I hope a jumbo sized, scoring power forward. 

    Players who I think may be traded if the Hurricanes can get some prospects and/or draft choices include:
(1) LaRose and (2) Samsonov. Kostopoulos is a bigger, faster, version of LaRose. Dwyer is a faster, slightly bigger, better all around player than LaRose -- at a savings of approximately $1,200,000 or more. LaRose would fit Laviolette's run and gun style, but it much less effective in a forechecking, precise passing, cerebral game. Samsonov fits the Maurice style to come degree, but lacks blazing speed and is not a brutal forechecking forward (although he is more physical than most people give him credit). If Samsonov is put on a third line with a player like Sutter and Tlusty, he would do fine because they can anticipate and handle his passes; and they have the hockey intelligence to get to open space. Samsonov really has a hard time when placed with Brind'Amour and LaRose because they lack the soft hands to convert his passes into goals.

    Coach John Tortorella in a fit of rage a week ago or so in explaining a New York Rangers loss said words to the effect: "If I am going to have my team lose because of mental errors, it is going to be because I am playing young players with heart rather than going with underachieving veterans." The Hurricanes team as of 12/23/2009 is still not achieving up to its potential, despite improved play. In the NHL General Managers rebuild if their veterans flop. To me, all signs point to a major house-cleaning that may start sooner than some people think.

Aren't we...

mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet??

I sense a fire sale coming! Everyone on waivers!!

Based off the 95 points to

Based off the 95 points to get into the playoffs from last year, the Canes can only give up 21 more point until the end of the season.

Not mathematically (since

Not mathematically (since the season is only 1/3 gone, it is hard to be out that quick), but practically.  Basically, the Canes have to win nearly 8 out of 10 from here out to be assured a playoff spot.  Fat chance.


There will be some movement.  Some guys will go.  But as has already been shown, just putting guys on waivers (AWard, Yelle) isn't enough.  When you have crap nobody wants, waivers does little -- although reentry waivers makes them attractive (see: Leighton).

Now I'm mad

I've been somewhat ambivalent about Mo. But this makes me mad. Same old stuff. Head in the sand. This team runs into more hot goalies and has more injuries and guys playing through stuff and guys not getting bounces than any team on earth.


Get real, Mo. Earth to Mo. Hello?



Well in public

Mo puts on a positive spin on what has been going on and based on what we as fans do know what Mo said physically is correct in that the canes ( nor any other team for that fact) play and act like a cup contender with many of the key players out at the wrong times ( is there ever a good time ??) and the back ups fall on their faces or do a poor and again in Public...Mo is being strraight and honest...but what about in private / what does he really think and what does he & the rest of the coaching staff say to JR behind closed doors ? That is why I coiuld never ever be a NHL Coach..besides i got a bad attitude and temper...what a surprise that revelation is huh ? Trust me the players whom i know for fact who are NOT killing themselves playing hurt who have the skills and talent and ability to step it up and don't or refuse to...those players don't or would never want to be dead in the same room with me...but that's just me !!! HeHehe...I hope and pray the canes play Montreal the very same way the Rangers played the Canes last night. maybe just maybe the Canes will get 2 points instead of 1 or 0 points...but i'm just a fan...what would i know ?

The Canes are Good,My Grandkids are Better, and Life is Great !!
Go Canes !!


Total bs excuses. Obviously coaching has nothing to do with winning or losing....


Oh...I can think of one (thing).....Look in the mirror, Mo.

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.