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NHL Insider

Raycroft ready to face old mates with Lehtonen out

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 4:39 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- The Dallas Stars will have to make do without top goalie Kari Lehtonen for at least three weeks as he recovers from a groin injury.

It's a big loss, as Lehtonen has started 19 of the Stars' first 23 games while posting a 13-4-1 record with a 2.34 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. He was injured Saturday against Phoenix, underwent an MRI on Sunday in Dallas and has been placed on injured reserve.

"Kari will be out at least three weeks," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said after this morning's skate at the Pepsi Center, where his team faces the Colorado Avalanche tonight. "We got some good news on that front as far as the MRI. It's not a high groin pull or anything; it's kind of a low strain, low pull. Those tend to heal a little better, so we're looking at the three-week mark before he can get going again."

Losing Lehtonen puts the onus on Andrew Raycroft, who will start tonight against his former Avalanche teammates. He's winless in five decisions this season with a 3.50 goals-against average and .899 save percentage.

Richard Bachman will be the backup following his recall from the Texas Stars in the American Hockey League. Bachman, 24, is a former Colorado College star who grew up in the Denver area. He had a 7-5-1 record with Texas this season with a 3.13 GAA and .887 save percentage.

Hershey vets react with sadness over Boudreau

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 4:29 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- When Bruce Boudreau arrived at this practice facility on Thanksgiving Day four years ago, there were many familiar faces looking back at him when he first addressed the Washington Capitals as the new head coach.

The roster was constructed with high draft picks like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, but also with a collection of guys he had helped develop while coach of the Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League.

Only three of those guys remain on Washington's roster, and for Brooks Laich, Jeff Schultz and Mike Green the news of Boudreau's dismissal was not easy to take Monday morning.

"Pretty tough -- he's a man that myself personally I owe a lot to," Laich said. "The job he's done in Washington has been amazing. Before he got here, we were a last-place team. He's taken us from a team that started to win to one that wins consistently and made the playoffs and ultimately had Stanley Cup expectations. It is tough on a personal note to see him go."

Hunter faces complicated to-do list as Caps coach

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 4:00 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Dale Hunter built a reputation as a gritty but effective player during his 19-year playing career in the NHL. He has been that same identity as a coach with London in the Ontario Hockey League for 11 seasons, using gritty and demanding, yet approachable, ways to bleed all kinds of success out of the Knights.

His next challenge in his hockey career is to get the talented, yet seemingly lost, Washington Capitals squad back on track.

This might be Hunter's greatest challenge; not only for the stage he's on as the coach of one of the League's most recognizable teams, but also because of the players he has to get through to, and the hungry hockey market he again has to win over, this time in a suit.

Second tour of duty falls short for Carolina's Maurice

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 3:12 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

Paul Maurice, fired by the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday morning, leaves with the dubious distinction as the only coach in team history to never win a Stanley Cup.

That's because Jim Rutherford has been about as loyal as a GM can be in this day and age, employing only two coaches during his tenure, which started in 1994 when the Hurricanes were still the Hartford Whalers. Rutherford named a 28-year-old Maurice coach in 1995, a position he held through the early stages of the 2003-04 season.

That's when Rutherford fired Maurice for a first time and hired Peter Laviolette, who had been coach of the New York Islanders. In 2005-06, Laviolette took the Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup championship, but he was relieved of his duties early in the 2008-09 season.

Other NHL coaches on hot seat? Figure these seven

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 2:59 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Likability couldn't save Bruce Boudreau and Paul Maurice. Past success didn't rescue them either. This season's results appeared to rule the decisions in Washington and Raleigh.

Boudreau and Maurice were fired Monday morning. Dale Hunter is Boudreau's replacement in Washington, and Kirk Muller is the new guy in Carolina.

Coaches are invariably hired to be fired–two-thirds of the League's franchises have replaced coaches at least once since 2009–and there are other NHL coaches that figure to be feeling some heat about their job status, especially after Monday.

McPhee saw 'tank was empty' and made a switch

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 1:34 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- General manager George McPhee's response was simple: The Washington Capitals aren't winning enough games right now.

There are other issues as well -- the defense has been leaky, the star forwards aren't scoring enough, the goaltending has been suspect. It all added up to a decision McPhee felt he had to make -- Bruce Boudreau is no longer the coach of the Capitals, and Dale Hunter has replaced him.

"The reason for the change was we weren't winning, obviously, and this wasn't a slump," McPhee said. "You can ride out slumps. This was simply a case of the players were no longer responding to Bruce. When you see that, as much as you don't want to make a change, you have to make a change. Bruce did a terrific job. We're very proud of him, proud of the work he did for us, but when the players aren't responding, you have to make a change.

"The issue was we weren't playing very well. And I think Bruce came in here and emptied the tank. He gave it everything he could and did a really good job, but the tank was empty. When that happens, you get a new coach, where the tank is full, and see if it makes a difference."

Six challenges facing new Canes coach Muller

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 1:20 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

As far as situations go for coaches who are hired in the middle of the season, Kirk Muller will find himself in a pretty good one with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Muller, who spent six seasons as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens and took over the head-coaching job with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals this season, will replace Paul Maurice as the third head coach in Hurricanes history.

Carolina is 8-13-4 for 20 points, good for 14th in the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes trail the eighth-place Washington Capitals -- who coincidentally fired coach Bruce Boudreau and replaced him with Dale Hunter about an hour before Maurice was let go -- by five points. With about three-quarters of the season yet to play, all is not lost for the Hurricanes.

AHL gamble pays handsomely for Muller in Carolina

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 12:14 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

Kirk Muller's gamble that the best route for becoming a head coach in the National Hockey League was to leave his role as an NHL assistant and become a head coach in the American Hockey League.

Monday, that gamble paid off handsomely.

After a 17-game apprenticeship in the AHL, with Milwaukee, Muller received the call for which he longed, summoned by the Carolina Hurricanes to replace Paul Maurice, who was relieved of his coaching duties Monday morning.

Muller, 45 and an assistant for five seasons with the Montreal Canadiens through the end of last season, finally has now reached his dream of returning to the NHL as a head coach.

This season, Muller led the Milwaukee Admirals, the top farm team of the Nashville Predators, to a 10-6-1 mark. 

A look at coaching seniority among NHL teams

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 12:14 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com Staff

Job security is tenuous as an NHL coach, as the list below proves. While rarities like Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres and Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators have held onto their positions over the long haul, two-thirds of the League's teams have replaced their coaches as recently as 2009 and only five teams have employed their coaches for longer than five years now.

Dale Hunter of the Washington Capitals and Kirk Muller of the Carolina Hurricanes are the newest additions to the coaching fraternity, named Monday to replace Bruce Boudreau and Paul Maurice, their respective predecessors.

Boudreau turned Caps around, couldn't capture Cup

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 11:42 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When Bruce Boudreau first arrived in Washington, he was best known for his effusive personality and a small role in the hockey classic "Slap Shot."

Just over four years later, he leaves Washington as one of the most successful coaches in League history, but one who seemingly had lost the ability to motivate his players.

Boudreau was fired by the Capitals on Monday during a dismal 3-7-1 stretch, capped by a 5-1 loss Saturday in Buffalo to a Sabres team missing nine regulars and dressing six players who started the season in the American Hockey League.
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