Canes Name Paul Maurice Head Coach

December 3, 2008

From the official announcement…

MO COMES BACK, RON FRANCIS NAMED ASSOCIATE COACH

RALEIGH, NC—Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, announced today the team has relieved Peter Laviolette of his coaching duties and that Paul Maurice will assume the role of head coach. Rutherford also announced that Ron Francis has been named the team’s associate coach, and that the remainder of the team’s coaching staff will remain in place.

“This is a real strong addition with Paul and Ronnie leading our coaching staff,” said Rutherford. “As we go into a very tough group of games in December, my hope is that the coaches make minor adjustments to the system and the players regain their confidence.

“We would like to thank Peter for his years of service to the Hurricanes organization, and we wish him and his family the best moving forward.”

Maurice, 41, returns to Carolina as the winningest coach in franchise history, having scored 268 wins in his 674 regular-season games coached during his eight-plus seasons with the team, from Nov. 6, 1995, until Dec. 15, 2003. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native has amassed a coaching record of 344-357-137 record in 11 NHL seasons with the Carolina franchise and the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he coached in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Maurice guided the Hurricanes to the 2002 Eastern Conference title and two Southeast Division crowns during his first stint as the team’s head coach.

This marks Francis’ first coaching assignment since his retirement as a player in 2005. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2007 as the NHL’s second all-time assists leader (1,249), third all-time games-played leader (1,731) and fourth all-time scoring leader (1,798 points). He played 16 of his 23 NHL seasons with the Carolina franchise and is the team’s all-time leader in nearly every statistical category. Francis, 45, has served as the Hurricanes’ director of player development since November 2006, and was named the assistant general manager on Oct. 4, 2007. Jason Karmanos will reassume the role of vice president and assistant general manager which he held from 1998-2007, before rejoining the team this year as executive director of hockey operations.


The Long Boot

December 2, 2008

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DEMPSEY’S RECORD | What handicap?

I’m reading “A Few Seconds of Panic,” the story of sportswriter Stefan Fatsis’ turn as a kicker for the Denver Broncos during the team’s 2006 training camps. It’s a George Plimpton/Paper Lion-like telling of months Fatsis spent in preparation to turn his 43-year-old body into an athlete’s body, taking his years of experience playing recreational soccer and making himself into a kicker who can boot 40-yard field goals. It’s a great book, especially the insights into the lives of pro football players trying to make the team and keep their jobs…

I’m not much of a football fan anymore, but Fatsis’ stories about the fascinating Jason Elam – the former Pro Bowl kicker for Denver – made me think about Tom Dempsey. Elam tied Dempsey’s NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in 1998; Dempsey, who was born with a deformed foot (see above) and hand, booted his in 1970. Here’s a video of the kick, which I saw on TV as a seven-year-old…


Economy Thoughts From A Hockey Guy

December 1, 2008

Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Capitals, posted this on his blog…it’s interesting reading about his ideas for the economy. You can visit his blog here.

I was recently asked by someone close to the new administration what I would do to jump start our economy and what “out of the box” programs I would implement to help make America great again. I warned this person that what I would have to say wouldn’t be “sweet nothings” and that I believed that we needed to take our medicine and admit defeat and to get real about our problems and some solutions to get us positioned well for the mid and long term. There were no short term solutions because our problems were that deep rooted. I also knew that no politician would ever risk his reelection by suggesting or implementing tough love on our populace but I honestly think that is what is needed.

So, in a nutshell, my 10 crazy ideas not for the timid and I know these ideas will challenge people and get some folks really angry so I apologize in advance:

Make retirement age 70 not 65. Social security benefits are killing our nation. We can’t afford it. People are living longer and retiring earlier. We should make people work and be productive and pay taxes for a longer period of time – heresy I know – but truthful and needed. We need more productivity from all of our workers, 70 is the new 60 anyway. Who said 65 years of age was a retirement birthright anyway? This will save hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars.

No Medicare or health benefits to people over 85. My dad died at 94 years of age. The majority of the expenses racked up for his Medicaid benefit were from 92 to 94 years of age. People are living longer and using very expensive technology to squeeze a few more years of life for the elderly is a luxury we cannot afford. In the last 50 years or so, we have seen a 10 year added longevity curve just in men and it will soon reach 80 years of age. Our technology and medicines will keep us living longer but the really elderly shouldn’t be eating up an over indexed amount of our health costs that young people pay for. This will save hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars. This will help us save on social security costs as well.

Mandatory service. All graduating students from college MUST serve in a public service position for two to three years. The Government will pay them a stipend of which 25 percent of all payments go into a mandatory savings plan or the parents’ mandatory savings plan. All college debts must be paid off via the service career and after two to three years, the students can go into the world with real world experience with no debts and with cash savings in the bank. The students should all work in positions with the police; fire departments; hospitals; military; Peace Corps, etc. Help us to rebuild our infra-structure or educational systems. This move will help rebuild a sense of community and teach young adults the power of having no debt and of having savings in the bank. And it will also inject a higher sense of purpose into our young adults.

No tax cuts for the middle class or wealthy for four years. We should focus all of our energies and dollars to lift the poorest of the poor out of poverty. That should be our priority. The poorest of the poor need the help immediately and in all of our budgets, they receive less than 15 percent of all dollars. I would cut the overall budgets but amp up dollars to the ones that need it most. This could save us hundreds of billions of dollars and get more equality into the system; cut waste; and really help those who need it.

Tax cuts in the form of a government grant to a savings account. All other forms of tax cuts would go via check into a mandatory savings account that is established for each American household and placed in an FDIC-insured bank. If we stimulate consumer savings, banks will have money to loan to people and we won’t have to borrow money from other nations. I was amazed that the stimulus checks that were last sent were aimed at people going to a mall and using credit cards to charge up more stuff. We need to keep dollars in our own savings accounts. The government should make savings a mandatory program for each and every household. We will save hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments to foreign nations if we have more savings in US based banks.

Less technology for our military. Technology is hyper expensive to maintain and keep relevant and it allows us to save lives because we send machines to do the work of people. If more people’s lives were at stake in a skirmish or war, our leaders would think twice about sending young Americans to fight for us. We have become so automated and high tech that our bills are astronomical and our trigger fingers are too easily placed on the wrong buttons. Slow down the technology spending for awhile and add more people to the service. It will create jobs, cut costs and make us more concerned about a policing action overseas. This will save us more than $100 billion and the world will be safer.

Stop acting like we are a super world power when we are the biggest debtor in the world. Never in history has a country that owed so much money to foreign governments been seen as a super power. In fact, debtor nations are seen and weak and ineffective and non-aspirational. I would find a way to get some payback from countries, too, that we had helped and were now flourishing. I would stop acting like a worldwide police force or, if I was, I would charge a fee to help. There has got to be a way for Iraq to pay us back for our work and sacrifice in freeing the country from tyranny and oppression. We have sunk literally hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars into their economy and the war and lost lives and shed blood. What is the payback? I would make our government adhere to the same regulations that companies have to do now in terms of market to market accounting and disclosures and to a Sarbanes-Oxley-like contract between government spending and budgeting. Why should a company be regulated when the government isn’t as it pertains to balance sheets and income statements and fiscal transparency? And isn’t it ironic that Communist countries now have better economies than ours? We need to face facts and stop being a debtor nation and become a savings-based economy.

We need to birth more children. People are living longer and, at the same time, we are having fewer children. At some point soon we will flip and we will have less people being born than are dying off. This is a real problem. It means no growth of populace and productivity will decrease and we will be an old and decrepit nation. We need to celebrate children. We need to reward marriages with tax breaks. We need to reward people having more children. Guess who is the most productive nation on earth now? China. Why? They have all of the manpower and know how to manufacture goods. We need to birth more children to keep the country and economy growing and we need to create programs that shed light on the power of marriage and dual family households. Divorce and single family households are big drivers of poverty and issues for our country. We need to embrace true family values because it has an economic underpinning for our nation besides all of the goodness that comes from a true family environment.

We need to refocus our schools and business schools onto “making stuff” on manufacturing. Our best and brightest should be going into the tech sectors or to Detroit or innovating to ship overseas our green tech. We need to stop graduating people who want to work on Wall Street and think our business is about dollars and esoteric financial instruments. The government should pay for students to go into math – engineering, technology and manufacturing -and no scholarships for Wall Street-oriented positions. We need to be the best manufacturers of cars and appliances and household goods and computers and network systems in the world. When a company buys from the US based partners, they should get a tax break. Keeping our dollars here and not sending them overseas will create an economic stimulus that is beyond our wildest dreams. Once Detroit is reinvented to make hybrid and electric cars and we don’t need to buy foreign oil, our air will be cleaner; our debt will be smaller; and we will save trillions of dollars. It is absolute madness that we borrow a trillion dollars from China and Japan so we can then send it over to OPEC nations to get their oil. Stop that madness.

Government communications. The Government should do a mini-bailout for certain media companies and all newspapers. Traditional media is soon to go out of business. The Government should help prop up these institutions and in payback, all political media should be free. This way politicians won’t be so focused on fundraising and they can have the inventory to tell us what the content of their programs are and the media titans can try to be honest brokers to report on what is really happening. We need a thriving media to keep the process honest and working. The system is broken now. We give dollars to politicians who promise us the world. The politicians then give the monies to media companies to help them broadcast their message in a sound bite “No new taxes” so they can get elected or re-elected. The politicians are then in league with the donors. Let us just short circuit this craziness and have a real platform for communications and keep an independent media business thriving. It would make a lot of sense. If we are helping the banks and soon the car companies, we might as well help the media companies too and in return politicians will get free air time and space and we will be more informed consumers.

So there you go, ten out of the box crazy ideas. Many would work and help us. They would be short term unpopular but would work in the long term and we would leave a better world and a safer world to the next generation.


In Today’s Herald: Online Vacation Stops

November 26, 2008
By request…we’ve added an online form to our web page for subscribers to enter vacation holds and stops. To see the form, go here.

 


Hockey Stuff: A Rare ‘Own Goal’

November 25, 2008

You rarely see this in hockey…

The Montreal Canadiens’ Ryan O’Byrne puts the puck in his own net after the team’s goaltender, Carey Price, leaves the ice for an extra attacker on a delayed penalty. The goal, credited to Bill Guerin, enabled the New York Islanders to tie the game at 3. New York went on to win the game in a shootout.


Global Warming Now ‘Climate Change’

November 24, 2008

AND IT’S GETTING COLDER…

If you follow the reporting on global warming, which the powers that be are now calling “climate change,” you’ll be interested to read The Washington Times’ piece on the subject from Friday’s edition here.


Canes’ Footing Getting More Firm

November 20, 2008

BEHIND THE GLASS | In Friday’s Herald

It’s not much of a streak, but with wins in their last two games – and solid outings in three in a row, dating to a loss to Atlanta a week ago today – the Carolina Hurricanes seem to be finally gaining some firm purchase on the young NHL season.

If so, it’s been awhile coming.

The team’s record – 10-7-2 at this point, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference – belies the fact that Carolina has been plagued with the kind of inconsistency and stretches of less-than-mediocre play that characterized the last two years.

Even when winning games earlier this season, the Hurricanes did so in something of an ugly manner. They won by having to come from behind and lost by giving up goals in bunches. They got by for a time with defensive lapses, mental breakdowns, shaky goaltending and a roster smarting from a variety of injuries before losing three straight, and four of five, until Sunday’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The team’s not totally on the right track. Eric Staal is still slumping, with just a single goal (an empty-netter at that) in his last 12 games, and the Hurricanes remain without the services of injured defenseman Frantisek Kaberle and winger Justin Williams. But as a unit, the Hurricanes may be starting to gel. Head coach Peter Laviolette is doing less toying with his line combinations, chemistry seems to be working for the team instead of against it and, to everyone’s relief, goalie Cam Ward is starting to play like…well, Cam Ward.

It’s Ward who holds one key to the rest of the team’s confidence. He’s been in net for the last three games, including Sunday’s win and Tuesday’s battle against the Montreal Canadiens, and for the first time since late winter he’s put together impressive back-to-back-to-back performances. He stopped both shooters he faced in the shootout victory against Tampa – good news, because he’s been notoriously weak in shootouts – and was very strong against a talented Montreal lineup.

In these last three games, Ward’s goals-against average was a shade over 2.00, a full goal below his season’s average, and he stopped 76 of 82 shots, a .926 save percentage that’s also far better than his save percentage to date.

The wins evened the team’s record to 4-4 at home, and with home games tonight (Phoenix Coyotes, 7 p.m.) and Sunday (Nashville Predators, 3 p.m.) there’s a chance to gain ground on division-leading Washington.

Ward’s resurgence has been good to see, but the largest sigh of relief Tuesday came from winger Sergei Samsonov. You’ll remember that Samsonov didn’t score a goal in 23 games with the Chicago Blackhawks last season and was subsequently placed on waivers. After the Canes picked him up, he notched 14 in 38 games. Tuesday’s goal against Montreal was his first in 19 games this season and seemed to give the entire team a lift.

Maybe Staal is next on the lift line…

Hurricanes notes:
Captain Rod Brind’Amour moved into sole possession of 50th place on the NHL’s all-time points list with his goal against Tampa Bay Nov. 16. It was Brind’Amour’s 1,127th career point, moving him past Hall-of-Famer Mike Bossy and Hall-of-Famer to-be Joe Nieuwendyk. The goal also tied him with former Hurricane Jeff O’Neill for third place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list, behind only Ron Francis and Kevin Dineen… Winger Justin Williams, who had surgery to repair a torn right Achilles tendon two months ago, is back skating and may return to the lineup well before the 4-to-6 month period he was expected to miss… Carolina’s defensive corps scored all of 133 points (20 goals, 113 assists) in 82 games last season, an average of 1.62 points per game. So far this season, defensemen have racked up 45 points (8 goals, 37 assists) in 19 games – an average of 2.37 points per game, and increase of 46 percent.


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