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Hurricanes State of the Union
Posted By Johnny G On Dec 20 2011 @ 8:53 am In Carolina Hurricanes | 3 Comments
I want to begin my position with ProSportsBlogging.com by touching upon a few topics with the Hurricanes that leads us to this point in the season. Follow me @johnnyghockey
Justin Faulk to WJC?
Jim Rutherford has stated today that Faulk is staying on with the Hurricanes and not going to WJC. Rutherford stated “We believe it is in the best interest of our organization and his development for him to remain with the Carolina Hurricanes this year.” Joni Pitkanen’s concussion likely sealed Faulk’s WJC fate as Harrison is only just returning to the lineup and is said to be back at 100%; though it is always a tougher call when it comes to concussions. Should one read into this as a way of saying that Pitkanen will be out for a long time?
As mentioned Pitkanen and Harrison have suffered concussions this season. The addition of Jeff Skinner to that list really changes the complexion of the make-up of the team, as well as the viewpoint of the concussion issue. Jim Rutherford has long been a staunch supporter of head-shot/concussion issues in the NHL, this season has to get his ire up. Though the hits to Skinner and Pitkanen are considered clean they still raise the question of ways to curb what is becoming a league-wide epidemic. There is no quick fix, and no way to bring Skinner and Pitkanen back sooner, but this issue just sky-rocketed up to the top of the NHL agenda…hopefully.
Fresh off a Stanley Cup win and a likely anticipated exodus as the scapegoat for Toronto’s woes, Tomas Kaberle signed with Carolina with the hopes of quietly doing what he does best; power-play quarterback and offensive weapon from the blue-line. Less than two months into the season Kaberle had worn out his welcome in Carolina and was shipped to Montreal. The surprise here was not that Kaberle had played so poorly but that Jim Rutherford was actually able to find a taker for his contract. If anyone was ever critical of Jim Rutherford’s job performance they had to give him full marks for that move. The trade seems to have been good for Kaberle, as well as the Hurricanes return in the deal Jaroslav Spacek. I have a feeling since that deal was completed Jim Rutherford has been breathing a little easier knowing he has that contract off the books and it is all now in the past.
While most NHL coaches are safe, there are many coaches in the NHL that wish they never answered their phone. Coach Paul Maurice entered the final season of his coaching contract with high expectations though, despite where the true blame lies, Coach Mo is out of a job in Carolina. I feel Maurice will be back in some capacity with the team, though it will likely not be behind the bench. Kirk Muller was a surprise replacement and is in the early stages of getting the team back on track. It is too early to assess how he is doing, though the general mood is upbeat and the team has been seen skating 60 full minutes per game. Many of the problems the team had were not Mo’s to fault, though change was needed and unless there is a trade to be had that makes sense a coach will get the boot.
The Kaberle trade was one move that really showed the league that Carolina is in the market for deals, who is next? The rumors suggest major moves but as we know rumors are 99% guesses and realistic moves tend to be off of the radar. We can speculate Gleason, Allen, and Ruutu are garnering much interest around the league as playoff rentals. A lot of the trades the Hurricanes make will be based on Jim Rutherford’s feel for expectations of this season and looking forward to the future. Eric Staal’s name will inevitably pop up despite Rutherford’s insistence he will not be moved. I feel at this point Staal, Ward, Sutter, Skinner, and Faulk will not be moved short of the deal of the century being offered. Joni Pitkanen and Jamie McBain head up the ‘less-likely but not out of the question’ class. Beyond that I would not be surprised to see most anybody else moved if and when the right deal came along. The trade freeze is in effect and we can at least let the rumors simmer but I expect January to be an interesting month for the Hurricanes. The big question is if the team is playing better how does that affect movement? Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.
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