Out with the old and in with the…old

The Carolina Hurricanes have had enough of their losing ways and have dumped head coach Peter Laviolette in favour of former ‘Canes head coach Paul Maurice.

Paul Maurice was fired by the Hurricanes five years ago this month and Laviolette was brought in to save the day. The team missed the playoffs that season, but came back after the lockout to win the Stanley Cup.

Carolina has had trouble on the ice since their Cup win. They have missed the playoffs each of the past two seasons, and they have lost 6 of their last 10 games, so the decision to fire Laviolette does not come as a surprise.

What is surprising, however, is the decision to bring back Maurice. Nothing against Maurice – I really like the guy – but I am always a bit surprised when a team brings back a former coach.

Since being fired by the Leafs, Maurice has interviewed for jobs with the Panthers, Islanders, and Thrashers. He was also taking classes at a university in Toronto and helping out in the NHL’s war room.

Habs almost blow it

59 seconds.

That’s how long it took for the Atlanta Thrashers to quiet a singing crowd at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

The struggling Montreal Canadiens were up 3-0 after the second period and a victory was all but guaranteed.

I don’t know if Ilya Kovalchuk gave a passionate speech to his teammates during the second intermission, but something definitely happened in those 15 minutes.

The Thrashers scored three times in 59 seconds (a franchise record) to tie the game. Their first goal came when the Habs were playing a man short after former Penguin Georges Laraque forgot to go on the ice after a line change.

“I have trouble understanding sometimes,” said coach Carbonneau. “That’s basically the only thing they have to worry about, that when a player comes off the ice you go on. He made a mistake and he didn’t play the rest of the game.”

The Thrashers then fell asleep for 7 seconds and allowed the Habs to score two goals (another franchise record for Atlanta). Jason Williams scored with 20 seconds left in the game, but it was not enough – the Canadiens won 5-4.

“It just breaks your heart, more than anything,” Thrashers head coach John Anderson said. “It’s hard on the team.”

Hard indeed. This is Atlanta’s fourth consecutive loss, and seventh in eight games.

Former NHL star dies

Hubert (Pit) Martin, a four-time NHL all-star who played in the 60s and 70s, died Sunday when the snowmobile he was driving fell through the ice in Lake Kanasuta in northwestern Quebec. His body was recovered Tuesday.

Martin played in 1,101 NHL games for the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, and Chicago Blackhawks from 1963 to 1979. He is well known for his role on Chicago’s MPH line with Jim Pappin and Bobby Hull.

He was part of one of the biggest trades in NHL history. A forward with the Boston Bruins, he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks along with Gilles Marotte and Jack Norris for Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, and Fred Stanfield, who were set to become part of the Bruins’ dynasty.

Crosby, Malkin honoured by the NHL

Sidney Crosby was named the first star of the week after scoring 6 goals and 3 assists in 3 games. His play as of late has led some to wonder whether he will set career highs in goals and points. Perhaps a 50-goal season, if he can stay healthy and receive a little luck from the hockey gods?

Meanwhile, Evgeni Malkin was named the second star of the month for scoring 7 goals adding 16 assists in 12 games in November. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin was named the first star of the month for breaking out of his mini-slump and scoring 11 goals and 14 assists in 14 games.

Islanders’ Bailey to stay

Centre Josh Bailey, who was chosen 9th overall in this year’s draft, will stay with the New York Islanders for the remainder of the season instead of returning to the OHL.

Bailey made his debut on November 11th after missing the team’s first 11 games with an injury. He currently has 5 assists in 9 games.

“In a short time, Josh has met and exceeded all of our expectations of him both on and off the ice,” said Islanders general manager Garth Snow. “We look forward to watching him continue his development this season as an Islander.”

I guess you can officially cross him off as a WJC hopeful…