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(Page 175 of 274)
NHL Insider

Button: A good GM knows right time for bold change

Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 9:32 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL Network analyst Craig Button can relate to what Washington's George McPhee and Carolina's Jim Rutherford were going through during the past few weeks while watching their foundering teams fall further and further from the pack.
 
Button fired two coaches, Don Hay and Craig Gilbert, during his three-season tenure as the general manager in Calgary from 2000-03. Neither decision came easy. Both were made after he and his management associates took long and in-depth looks at what wasn't working and why.
 
"It just comes down to a case of, 'OK, we've reached the point of no return,' " Button told NHL.com Monday night. "That is exactly what happens."
 
McPhee and Rutherford each reached that point of no return after watching their teams lose another game Saturday. After taking Sunday to be sure, they both made decisions that rocked the hockey world Monday, with McPhee bringing in ex-Capitals captain Dale Hunter to replace Bruce Boudreau and Rutherford firing Paul Maurice in favor of Kirk Muller.
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Carlson and Wideman excited about Caps' future

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 8:31 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va -- One thing made clear by Dale Hunter on his first day as head coach of the Washington Capitals is that players will be held accountable regardless of name.

"I'm a players     coach,” Hunter said Monday, "but also the players will know when I'm mad at them. I'm stern on them because that's the way you have to be to win games. Everybody makes mistakes out there, but if they keep making the same mistakes there will be repercussions.”

"I think I was one of the better players on my team,” Carlson said, "and I certainly didn't get a free pass, so I don't see much changing there.”

Hunter spent parts of 11 years coaching the OHL's Knights, winning three Matt Leyden Trophies as Coach of the Year and the 2005 Memorial Cup as national champions.
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Carolina opportunity has Muller raring to go

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 8:30 PM / NHL Insider

Kurt Dusterberg - NHL.com Correspondent

As he fielded questions during his first press conference as coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, Kirk Muller displayed all the excitement of a man who had just won a lottery jackpot.

His new job promised to be "exciting" and "fun" — words he leaned on over and over again. Each answer gave him a new reason to smile.

It wasn't just a new job for Muller, it was his first as an NHL head coach. Carolina named the 45-year-old to succeed Paul Maurice, who was fired Monday morning. After more than 1,100 regular-season games as a player, Muller had put in his apprenticeship years in the coaching ranks, first with Queens University in Canada, followed by five seasons as an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens. This season, Muller opted for a head coaching job with the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals, the Nashville Predators affiliate.
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High-caliber players don't always find coaching success

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 6:36 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Claude Julien, Joel Quenneville, Dan Bylsma and Mike Babcock combined to score 73 NHL goals -- or as many as Wayne Gretzky scored by himself in the 1984-85 season.

While Gretzky holds 60 NHL records, won four Stanley Cups as a player and is one of the greatest players to ever lace on skates, Julien, Quenneville, Bylsma and Babcock were far superior when it came to working behind the bench.

Gretzky had a 143-161-24 record and missed the playoffs in each of his four seasons as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, while Julien, Quenneville, Bylsma and Babcock all have been perennial playoff performers and have won the last four Stanley Cups.

What it goes to show you is that performance as a player doesn't translate to performance behind the bench. Rare is the Hall of Fame-caliber player who is able to have anything approaching that level of success as a coach.
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Canucks goalies taking controversy in stride

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 6:29 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Asked early during his tenure in Vancouver why he wears No. 1 on his jersey, Roberto Luongo looked seriously at his inquisitor and said: "Because No. 1 says it all."

Roberto Luongo
Goalie - VAN
RECORD: 7-5-1
GAA: 2.97 | SVP: 0.896
Luongo held a perfect deadpan delivery before breaking into a laugh. But with that status in the Canucks' crease now being questioned, things were more serious on Monday.

After setting franchise shutout records two of the last three Novembers, Luongo watched Cory Schneider go on one of his own last week, reduced to the role of spectator behind the second-year stopper, sparking talk of a crease controversy in a city that used to chew up and spit out goalies on an annual basis before he arrived six seasons ago.

Luongo said all the right things -- and with the right tone -- shortly after Schneider revealed he would make a sixth-straight start against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. So did head coach Alain Vigneault, reiterating Luongo was "still our No. 1 goaltender." But no one was pretending the incumbent was happy about his spot on the bench.
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New coach tasked with getting Ovi rolling again

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 5:41 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Dale Hunter wore the captain's "C" in Washington for five seasons, which is longer than any player in the Capitals' history.

His fate as the franchise's coach now rests in the performance of the top players on the roster, and particularly the guy who will eventually break his team record for captaincy longevity.

Brooks Laich said "it (stinks)" that Bruce Boudreau took the fall Monday morning when the Capitals players were truly at fault for the team's recent slide. While he is probably correct, the same burden now passes to Hunter, who was introduced as the team's new coach at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Hunter's immediate mandate will be to get this struggling team to play better, but his long-term success will hinge on Alex Ovechkin.

"Everybody in their career goes through slumps in every sport," Hunter said of Ovechkin. "Not a slump -- he's been good, he's been scoring, but we have such a high level [of expectation] of Alex that we always expect more. There's always pressure on him, but again, it's a team game and Alex is one part of it -- a big part of it -- but definitely we have to play better as a team. It starts with the goaltending to the D. The best players have to get the puck on their sticks."
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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.
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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."
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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.
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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.
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Quote of the Day

When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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