Kirk Muller played more than a thousand games in the NHL, won a Stanley Cup and was an assistant coach in the league for five years.
But Tuesday night, he will experience something new: for the first time, he will go behind the bench as an NHL head coach.
Muller, 45, was introduced Monday as the new head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes by general manager Jim Rutherford. Muller replaces Paul Maurice, who was fired after almost three years as head coach.
"It's an exciting moment for myself and my family," Muller said Monday in a press conference at the RBC Center. "I want to think Jimmy (Rutherford) for having the confidence in hiring me. It's a special day for me."
As for his first game, Tuesday against the Florida Panthers at the RBC Center, Muller said, "I'm excited. It's good. You need to have those butterflies. It's a game but it's fun. It's all about the competition."
Muller was head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL -- his first head-coaching position in professional hockey. The Admirals, who hired Muller in June, played in Charlotte Saturday and Sunday, losing twice to the Checkers, but Muller had the opportunity to meet with Rutherford.
Muller returned to Milwaukee with the team and talked with his family. He said Rutherford called late Sunday night to officially offer the job. He will take over a Hurricanes team that is 8-13-4 after three straight losses and 14th in the NHL's Eastern Conference.
"It's all about the players and hopefully I can come in and get them to feel good, and get them to play at the level they're capable of and let them have some fun," he said. "And we'll go from there."
Muller will meet his players Tuesday morning, before the morning skate at the RBC Center.
"We'll get things rolling because it happens quick," he said.
As an NHL player, Muller won a Stanley Cup in 1993 with the Montreal Canadiens. He elater served as an assistant coach with the Canadiens before being named by the Admirals.
Rutherford said Muller's contract calls for him to be paid for the remainder of this season and the next three seasons.
"Even going back to junior hockey, Kirk has always had great character and leadership qualities," Rutherford said. "He had a good playing career and has had a good coaching career. He's a proven leader and motivator and has tremendous communication skills."
Rutherford said assistant coaches Dave Lewis, Tom Barrasso and Rod Brind'Amour would be retained.
"It's unfortunate," Rutherford said of Maurice's firing. "We need to see if we can get back into it with a new coach, or if we need to change some players."
Rutherford said the Canes are looking to trade for a forward, adding that has been an ongoing search for three or four weeks.
"No one has been available who makes sense for us," Rutherford said. "We will continue to look."
Noting the Canes' surplus of defenseman, Rutherford said, "Ideally we can move a defenseman for a forward."
The Admirals, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators, played in Charlotte this past weekend against the Charlotte Checkers, the Canes' AHL affiliate. The Checkers won 3-2 and 5-1, with Rutherford in attendance.
Muller was not the only person considered for the job, Rutherford said, although he did not name any other potential candidates. Rutherford said he did a thorough search, lasting more than a month, anticipating that a coaching change might be needed.
"I've talked to Kirk for 7-10 days," Rutherford said. "After going through that process of all the possibilities, clearly Kirk was our No. 1 choice."
Rutherford said turning over the team to a new coach, "Doesn't work like magic."
"We may win our first game or first three games, but what I'm really looking for are new ideas," he said. "What I also will look for is a consistent work ethic."
Rutherford called the Canes' lackluster 4-0 loss in Montreal on Nov. 16 "unacceptable" and said the Canes did not play well for much of the 3-1 loss Friday against the Winnipeg Jets.
"We have to get that consistent work ethic," he said. "It will take some time to get (Muller's) ideas and system in place. Then, we can get the confidence back and hopefully then the wins will come."
Muller spent 19 seasons in the NHL, playing in more than 1,450 regular-season and playoff games.
In talking about his preferred style of play as a coach, Muller said he wanted a team that was strong defensively but also an aggressive forechecking team, with hardworking forwards.
Maurice twice served as coach coach of the Canes and has an overall NHL record of 460-457-167. He coached 920 games for the Canes organization and was 384-391-145.
Maurice's second stint as Canes coach began in December 2008, when he was named to replace the fired Peter Laviolette. Maurice led the Canes to the Eastern Conference finals in 2009, but Carolina missed the playoffs the past two seasons.
Rutherford said he talked with Maurice in the summer about a possible move to the front office, but the decision was made to stay as coach.
"Paul has done a lot of good things for this organization," Rutherford said. "We appreciate the work he has done for us, It's unfortunate his leaving comes under these circumstances."
Muller was the second overall pick of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, behind Mario Lemieux. A six-time NHL All-Star, he scored 30 or more goals five times and had seven 70-point seasons.