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Frustrated Muller rips ‘Canes: ‘Losing is for losers’

Mar 18, 2014, 10:50 AM EDT

kirkmullergetty Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes are primed to miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season — the second under head coach Kirk Muller — and, on Monday, Muller voiced his frustration about the lack of winning.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

At the end of the team practice at Raleigh Center Ice, Muller gathered his players around him on the ice for a few words. He was loud and his message clear.

Muller talked of “wanting guys who want to make a difference.” He said “losing is for losers” and that too many of the players were cheating and “playing their own way.”

Too many, he said, were “playing for the scoresheet” and worried about getting theirs. Some were more worried about new contracts, he said, and others about somehow holding on and playing another year in NHL.

Carolina has been one of the NHL’s biggest disappointments over the last two seasons, especially given all the money GM Jim Rutherford has spent on talent acquisition. Nearly $130 million was committed to the Jordan Staal, Alex Semin and Jeff Skinner trio and while all three have had their moments, it hasn’t been enough to keep the ‘Canes in the playoff hunt.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the players Muller suggested were playing for new deals.

Carolina only has 13 players under contract for next season, and has decisions to make on a number of key UFAs — including veteran defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Ron Hainsey, and veteran forwards Manny Malhotra and Radek Dvorak.

There are also a number of RFAs the team will need to decide on as well: Jiri Tlusty, Andrei Loktionov, Drayson Bowman, Nathan Gerbe, Brett Bellemore and, most importantly, Olympic defenseman Justin Faulk, who figures to be in line for a sizable raise on the $840,000 he made this season.

For all the players with uncertain futures, one thing is clear — Muller and the ‘Canes are using the final few games of this season as an audition for next year and beyond.

“We’re moving forward,” Muller said. “If you want to fit in, show it. Do it with work. I don’t want guys who don’t show up, who have bad body language. We’re going to practice hard, we’re going to play hard and we’re going to win games.”

  1. 7mantel - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    This team really makes me smh,the few games I watched they looked decent.With the personal on this team it makes you wonder if it’s Kirk system that needs to change .

  2. penguins87and71 - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    I totally agree, I can’t figure this team out either. It seems like every year they have a talented roster but they can never seem to put it together. They should be better then they actually are. They have Jordan Staal, Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, Jeff Skinner, and Jordan Tilusty, not to mention 3 decent goaltenders. Maybe like you said, change the coaches system, or fire the coach.

  3. 950003cups - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    It’s Kirk’s system. He should know better. If he has any question of what’s wrong he has an assistant there who can remind him of his coaching days in NJ. They were horrible under his system and player selection. As soon as Lemaire came in, that same team was the best in the NHL with, at one point, boasting a 20-2-2 streak. So yeah. It’s the coach. They play a bigger role than we tend to believe.

    • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      Boom. 100% correct, sir.

  4. deeboy - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    The Hurricanes should be better than this. They have plenty of high-end offensive talent and they are 29th on the power play. The PK is average but leading the lead in SHG. Goaltending has been good enough with Khudobin and now Ward playing a little better.

    Seems to me the biggest problem is the lack of size. They don’t have any grinders. They traded their most physical player to New Jersey. The bottom lines are littered with undersized, scrappy players that can be dominated on the boards. That is a GM issue to me.

    • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:14 PM

      I agree, but their most physical player was a smaller forward whose body is has taken quite a few beatings. When Rutherford extended him a couple of seasons ago instead of trading him, you just knew 29 other GMs wouldn’t have done it.

    • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:16 PM

      Actually, I have to disagree on lack of size, too. This isn’t a team of smurfs outside of Gerbe and that guy is clearly not a liability.

      • deeboy - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:27 PM

        Granted, Ruutu was breaking down and I don’t blame the GM for getting rid of him, even if 1.8M of the 10M remaining on the contract was retained. But guys like Dwyer, Dvorak, Bowman, Loktionov and even Malhotra don’t force mistakes due to their physicality. At least Ruutu hit people. Unless they call up a couple of the AHL guys like Blanchard or Sutter, they don’t have that physical edge I think is needed to win games consistently.

        Amen to the poster that mentioned scouting. The Canes have an organizational weakness there that HAS to be fixed.

      • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 5:23 PM

        (Scouting was me as well.)

        I think you equate size to physicality. The physicality thing is again the GM. He has assembled a very soft roster over the past 6 seasons for reasons unknown to anyone but him. In regards to size, I believe the Canes are comparable to most team. In regards to physicality, they are indeed softer than tissue paper. You have Malhotra, then you have Jordan Staal who hits when he want to.

        When Jiri Tlusty is tougher than more than half your roster, you have $%#@$ issues.

      • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 6:25 PM

        I’m thinking some folks are just going overboard with the “smurf” thing. Yes, players like Dwyer and Murphy are smaller players. However, most folks harping on size are the same folks who aren’t even taller than those guys. Give it a rest.

  5. alicesrightfootesq - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    JR needs to go. Year after year Carolina is just okay. You can only fire so many coaches. As said above, the high-end talent is there but they need a more complete team with role players and grinders.

    • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      This is 100% correct as well, but he will never be fired. Just have to wait until he is ready to go. He probably got about 7 more seasons of mediocrity left in him, sadly. Unless he ends up being the GM who croaks in office, then 20 more seasons.

  6. penvik - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Is Jordan Staal what Canes fans thought he would be? I don’t think so, but honestly, what’s the review on him so far?

    I’ll add that B. Sutter isn’t what I thought, he’s solid defensively but not strong enough. He flashes a brilliant end to end rush 2x a year and leaves you wanting more. He doesn’t lead a third line like Jordan used too, but we all new that Sutter himself was a downgrade. I guess I thought he could grow into more, but not likely.

    • hockey412 - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      I’ve been surprised at Sutter’s lack of physicality. Then again, there are games where I’m surprised at the entire team’s physicality.

    • c9castine - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      no he doesn’t lead a 3rd line like Jordan used to but he also doesn’t have TK and Cookie on his wings. He has (takes a deep breath to start the list)….

      Jordan Staal is in no mans land in Carolina I feel. He was in the perfect spot in Pittsburgh but he wanted to prove he was a top center.

      Well, he is not a top center in terms of offensive production Just simply isn’t. But on a championship caliber team he is an ultimate 3rd liner center and has a lot to do with our cup runs in 2008 and 2009. But he wanted to get paid and the Pens knew they couldn’t be paying a 3rd line center 6 million dollars a year, so they let Carolina over pay for him.

      I wish him success, but so far it hasn’t worked out down there.

      • bobhpine - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        That’s just factually incorrect. Shero offered Jordan Staal $60M over 10 yrs, the exact same contract he got from Carolina down to the penny. Jordan wanted to play with Eric, plain and simple. Money was not the issue.

      • c9castine - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:06 AM

        your right, i guess what i should say happened is he traded him instead of losing him for nothing.

        but yeah your right now that i think about it. also wasn’t implying anything negative about staal.

    • bobhpine - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      Sutter and Staal have both underwhelmed, but the Pens got Doumolin and Derrick Pouliot in that trade, their the number 3 and 1 prospects respectively. Shero made another great trade here…it even rivals Goligoski for Neal and Niskanen.

      • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        Adding Dumoulin to the trade still makes zero sense whatsoever from Carolina’s perspective. Rutherford is the worst.

      • c9castine - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:12 AM

        I am not sure why Sutter has underwhelmed. Its pretty obvious nobody expected him to perform at a level equal to or higher than Staal when he was a Penguin, considering there was a top prospect and HIGH number one draft pick in the package that made Staal move.

        He is, if your paying attention, one of the better true centers in the game not playing on a scoring line. Excellent penalty killer, great positional center, solid face off taker, silky smooth hands, long reach and he has scored 20 goals in this league and Im willing to bet he will again…

        Lets also remember he just turned 25. Staal is only underwhelming if you thought he was going to be Staal or better, and thats not the issue…

      • c9castine - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:14 AM

        adding dumolin who first of all, is going nowhere like noah welch, may not make much sense but its what he had to do to get Staal on the team to play with his brother

    • hosewater2 - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      And you all wanted Kesler for Sutter and extras? And then criticized Gillis for not doing it? After that (excellent and onpoint) assessment of Sutter’s abilities?

    • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:24 PM

      Not even close to being what I thought he would be.

      • c9castine - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:21 AM

        what the hell made you think he was going to be any more than a 25 goal 50 pt player? spent 6 years in Pitt playing with some of the best talents and topped out at 50 pts.

        oh yeah, nathan gerbe and jeff skinner. my bad

  7. withseidelinn - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Their defence is also horrible so that doesn’t really help.

    • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      Defense isn’t bad, 80% better than the 2013 system corps and Dave Lewis is good with them. The inconsistency from the forwards are a bit maddening.

      • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:55 PM

        “i meant 80% better than the 2013 defense corps”. If half of your top 6 includes such stalwarts as Joe Corvo, Jamie McBain, and Bobby Sanguenetti, you have serious f$%@$$ issues.

  8. imgoingtowichita - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Hahaha. That is absolutely hilarious coming from Captain Kirk. How about quitters Kirk? Are quitters better than losers because I seem to recall you quitting on at least one franchise. It took you the Victor Fasth timeframe to even show up (4 days) after you had been traded. You are such a hypocrite to demand players play for the team and not themselves. You make me sick!
    I feel better :)

    • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      Hehe, Islanders Fans speaks. Muller did pull a huge douche move there. He clearly wasn’t the same player he once was but he went “diva” on the Islanders. He wanted no parted of the Gordon Fisherman. 😀

  9. lonespeed - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    There is no doubt Carolina should be better, but I’m not as down on them as others might be. I don’t know what the silver bullet might be to turn the team around, but if I were a prospective head coach I would certainly prefer the Carolina roster over many of the other teams out there.

    Certainly looks like some chemistry changes need to take place. The line between success and failure can be very thin sometimes. One or two additions / subtractions from the roster could make a huge difference.

    Disappointing that the team is going to miss the playoffs yet again. Changes need to be made, but I would hold off on drastic changes.

    • storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      Realistic, drastic changes for this franchise:
      1) Fire Muller.
      2) Hire more scouts.
      3) Bring in a veterans into the locker room. Guys like Malhotra and Dvorak make a difference in the locker room and on the ice. Well, Dvorak moreso in the locker room.
      4) Stop with the hopeless reclamation projects. If a guy seems to have lost it after age 27, he has lost it. (see Komisarek, Mike).

      In regards to scouts, the Canes makes me laugh in this regards. The GM somehow fails to see the result of his lack of scouting. For a market that needs to grow homegrown talent, the old codger doesn’t quite make the correlation. I laugh every time I think about this.

  10. hockeydon10 - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    This has the smell of a coach just at the beginning of losing the room.

  11. storminator16 - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    I guess he finally got the memo he is going to be fired after the season. I just remembered him coming in blustering “accountability” but I’ve seen little of this.

    Cya, coach.

  12. bkg63 - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    “Losing is for losers”??? From a head coach? Sounds like somethin my seven year-old would say.

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