The Carolina Hurricanes will have new faces behind the bench beginning in the 2014-15 season.
Head coach Kirk Muller and assistant coaches Dave Lewis and John MacLean were relieved of their duties on Monday, a week after Ron Francis assumed his new role of executive vice president and general manager.
“I just felt at this point going forward we needed a fresh start,” Francis said.
Additionally, Greg Stefan, who served as the team’s goaltending coach, was reassigned to the pro scouting department. Assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour has been retained. Muller, a first-time NHL head coach, guided the Canes to an 80-80-27 record over three seasons.
The team will now begin the hunt for who will serve as the franchise’s 13th head coach and fourth in that position since 1997.
“It would be an open search at this point,” Francis said. “We’ll start with a few names on a list.
“I’ve already had some calls and emails today from people wanting to throw their name in the hat, so I think [position is] very attractive.”
Stopping short of listing potential candidates, Francis outlined the vision he had for who will become the new bench boss. Ideally, he said, the Canes will have someone in place by the 2014 NHL Draft, slated for June 27 and 28 in Philadelphia.
“The biggest thing I’m looking for is a guy that’s a teacher,” he said. “You have to be accountable as a player, and having someone in that position that holds them accountable wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
Though Brind’Amour was kept in the fold, Francis said the new head coach would have some flexibility in filling out his staff.
“Roddy really didn’t have, in my estimation, a prominent role on this staff,” he said. “I felt Roddy had a lot more to offer, which is why I kept him on board.”
With changes already made in the front office and behind the bench, could further alterations be made to the roster? That’s what Francis intends to evaluate in the coming weeks.
“At the end of the day, this, in no way shape or form, takes players off the hook. They still have to be accountable for their actions and how they play,” he said. “I think there has to be a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, as well, to turn this thing around.”
With that said, Francis noted he wouldn’t make a deal for the sake of unloading a player or a contract; it would have to be a move that made the team better.
“I think there are good pieces in the locker room,” he said. “Talent-wise, I think we’re capable of competing.”
As Francis begins his second week as Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Canes, he will continue to assess every aspect of the organization from the top down, including the future of the coaching staff in Charlotte and the development process of players in the system.
“Just because we change coaches doesn’t mean that everything is status quo in the locker room,” Francis said. “We do need to evaluate that.
“We are looking at everything,” he continued. “We do have more meetings starting tomorrow morning going forward to look at all different facets of the organization from how we draft to what type of players we draft to our make-up and how we develop and so on.”