After a disappointing 2013 season, GM Jim Rutherford announced that there would be no coaching changes in the Carolina Hurricanes system, keeping Kirk Muller as the head coach, but how safe is Muller’s position?
Muller was brought in as the Canes head coach during the 2011-12 season on Nov. 28, taking over for Paul Marice. The Hurricanes were off to an awful start and Eric Staal was not scoring. Muller helped the team turn around a little bit, but was not able to make the playoffs and finished last in the Southeast Division.
This season started strong for the Hurricanes, but injuries derailed the team resulting in a 25th place finish in the NHL. There was some speculation that Muller would be fired after the season, but Rutherford decided to keep the same coaching staff.
In both seasons Muller did not have a chance to coach his team during a regular training camp. In 2011, the season was already underway and this year, training camp was about a week long with no preseason games. This may have played in Rutherford’s decision to keep Muller on-board as the former Montreal Canadien will have a chance at a regular training camp this September.
Muller also dealt with a slew of injuries to his players, including starting goalie Cam Ward, which allowed Rutherford to be more lenient with Muller. However, the Ottawa Senators and coach Paul MacLean also dealt with injuries to star players this season, but still managed to reach the playoffs.
But if things do not go well at the start of the season similar to Maurice’s 2011-12 season, it’s possible that Rutherford will fire Muller. The team figures to be healthy at the start of the 2013-14 season and should be expected to play at the level it did at the start of this season.
Muller may be safe for now, but his 2013-14 season will be make or break for his career with the Carolina Hurricanes.