A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Paul Maurice named leafs coach

Although many people saw this coming from 50 miles away, it still comes as a bit of a surprise to me. On Friday, Paul Maurice (aka "Ole One Eye", aka "Chairman Mo") was named head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Maurice, a 39-year old native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, has been coaching with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. He was also, of course, the longtime head coach of the Whaler/Canes and was at one point the longest tenured coach in the league.

Maurice compiled a very mediocre 268-307-99 record in nine seasons with Hartford/Carolina. He was set to be fired be the Canes in February of 2002, but the team made an amazing run just to get in the playoffs, then made a storybook run to the Stanley Cup Finals. The next season, the Canes finished dead last in the league, and in December of 2003, the Canes fired Mo, replacing him with former Islanders coach Peter Laviolette.

With Maurice coming in, Leafs fans should expect left wing Bates Battaglia to come with him. Maurice really likes Batesy from his days with the Canes. Battaglia was part of the BBC (Battaglia, Brind'Amour, Cole) line that caught fire late in that 2002 season. Battaglia has been a little bit of a journeyman since then. He spent time with the Avs, the Caps, then found himself all the way down in the ECHL at the start of the 2005 season. While coaching the Marlies, Paul Maurice made a big push to get Battaglia. The team offered him a try-out, and he ended up having a pretty great season. He scored 67 points (20/47) in 79 games, finishing second on the team. Anyway, Mo really likes the guy, so Leafs fans should expect to see him on the big club in October. He won't be able to wear his traditional #13 sweater because Mats Sundin already wears that. I'm guessing that Batesy will probably wear #73, since it's the next closest thing resembling a capital B.

If the Leafs are content with wallowing in mediocrity, this is a fantastic move. If they want to return to glory, this might not be such a good thing.

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