Mathematically, nothing is out of the question. However, if Carolina wants to make the playoffs, they’ll have to go on an epic tear while three or four other Eastern Conference teams all catch the flu. Stranger things have happened, but in all honesty, that’s not happening.
So what happened? Why are the Hurricanes more than likely going to sit the playoffs out again? It’s a really simple explanation that nobody really wants to accept.
Head coach Kirk Muller needs to be replaced.
It’s been mentioned before, but with another postseason slipping away and nobody seeming to want to do anything about it, change needs to happen and it needs to be far more drastic than calling someone up from Charlotte. Muller is demonstrating that he’s perfectly happy to look on the bright side and whistle a happy tune while Carolina enters a fifth postseason they’re not playing in.
Teams will clean house regularly. The Buffalo Sabres made a spectacle of themselves earlier this season doing exactly that. The Calgary Flames are in the middle of one themselves. So why not Carolina? Because of GM and human two-by-four Jim Rutherford.
In the time that the Hurricanes have been faltering, Rutherford has done as little as he possibly can to fix anything. His trades are laughable when they actually happen, he refuses to fix problems, and he insists on running the team based on personal loyalties.
Barring a miracle, Hurricanes fans will be watching the playoffs as neutral parties again. Owner Peter Karmanos Jr. can look at that and wonder, or he can give Muller and Rutherford the boot.
Immediately after, he needs to hand the keys over to VP of Hockey Operations Ron Francis. Francis as GM would give the team a breath of fresh air, while keeping it in the family. With Francis’ connections in the hockey community and the respect he commands, finding a quality coach who can lead the Hurricanes to success finally — should be easy.
They’ll have the whole post-season to think about it.