It was a typical move from the early chapters of a GM’s guidebook – make room to bring in your own coach.
With that in mind, Francis announced that head coach Kirk Muller and assistant coaches John MacLean and Dave Lewis were relieved of their duties on Monday.
At the same time, the Hurricanes also reassigned goaltending coach Greg Stefan to the pro scouting department, while assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour would remain part of the coaching staff.
“I think you look at a lot of things and of course you watch the team over the course of the year and I just felt at this point going forward we needed a fresh start,” Francis said during an afternoon press conference.
“In fairness to Kirk and his staff, it wasn’t your typical three years as a head coach. Coming in during the first year and having a lockout the second year, and an Olympic year the third year. For me it was important getting a fresh start going forward and that’s why I made the decision.”
Muller had compiled a record of 80-80-27 during three seasons with Carolina after being named head coach on Nov. 28, 2011.
It was his first head coaching position in the NHL and back then he took over a team that struggled to find its offensive and defensive consistency under previous coach Paul Maurice.
Carolina finished that season 33-33-16, the lockout-shortened season at 19-25-4, and this past season at 36-35-11.
After missing the playoffs for another three seasons, treading the watermark between wins and losses was not enough to keep Muller on during the final year of his contract or beyond.
In terms of a timeline to fill the position, Francis indicated that having someone in place to be ready to head into June’s NHL Entry Draft would be the ideal situation.
Francis indicated that he knows the quality of coach he would like to hire and will conduct a comprehensive search to find the appropriate candidate.
“It would be an open search at this point,” Francis said.
“At this point, I don’t have anybody in mind. We’ll start with a few names that we’ll put on a list, and we’ll go forward looking at that list and see who we think is the best fit for our team going forward.”