My in-box is already filling up with emails from fans perplexed by and angry with the Hurricanes' re-hiring of Paul Maurice as head coach. (Presumably after they've left their angry comment over on LSB.) After all, Maurice was fired five years ago for his failure to fix the same problems that got Peter Laviolette fired.
You can read more about that in tomorrow's N&O, but here are a few points to consider.
1. Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford made it clear that Maurice's tenure as head coach and Ron Francis' tenure as his No. 2 behind the bench will be a short-term proposition — the remainder of this season only, unless they show results.
Now, the flip side is, what counts as results? Would getting close to the playoffs and not making it count?
And then there's the coach-under-pressure phenomenon, which helped hinder Laviolette (and I argued against before the season). Maurice acknowledged that:
"The weight of any individual game is blown out of proportion," Maurice said. "A 3-2 loss becomes, 'How could you lose to that team?' I don't think a lot of teams play well under that kind of pressure."
2. Maurice said all the right things about sticking with Laviolette's system, but he was already paving the way for a return to a more conservative approach.
Among his comments: Only three teams in the Eastern Conference ran a two-man forecheck last season, Carolina, Toronto and Buffalo, and none made the playoffs; "When they're going, they're a hard team to handle," Maurice said of the Canes, "but for more frequent and longer stretches you can control the game and get to them;" "You need a fallback position when things aren't going well."
In other words, he acknowledges that this team is built around Laviolette's style and he's willing to give it a go, but he's prepared to switch if he doesn't see results.
3. I feel bad for Maurice. He's a good guy who Wednesday acknowledged that he should have been fired when he was fired, and that after being coach for so long the players had tuned him out.
But he's going to bear the brunt of fan anger over what will no doubt be perceived as yet another easy-way-out move by Rutherford and Peter Karmanos, turning to an old friend instead of a high-profile coach from outside the organization.
After all, the last time the Canes did that, hiring Laviolette, they won the Stanley Cup.
Maurice is a comfortable hire for Rutherford, and possibly a cheap one as well depending on his contract status with the Leafs (still checking on that), but you could make the argument that Rutherford needs a coach more willing to question his decisions, as Laviolette was.