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Karmanos puts Canes’ woes on injuries rather than coach Muller

Apr 28, 2014, 7:44 PM EDT

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Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. wouldn’t say if head coach Kirk Muller would be back next season. That’s new GM Ron Francis’ call, not his, Karmanos argued.

That didn’t stop Karmanos from defending Muller though.

“From my perspective, I think (Muller) has come a long way as a coach,” Karmanos said, per the News & Observer.

That’s despite the fact that the owner also thinks this Hurricanes team is good enough to win the Stanley Cup. But if it’s not the coach’s or players’ fault, then why did the Hurricanes miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season and seventh time in eight campaigns?

“If we didn’t have both our goalies out for umpteen games … We were at the (salary) cap, we had some outstanding hockey players, we had some tough injuries,” Karmanos argued.

Carolina did lose goaltenders Anton Khudobin and Cam Ward for a significant portion of the season, although that setback was mitigated by the rise of Justin Peters, who posted a 2.50 GAA and .919 save percentage in 21 games to outshine Ward’s overall performance.

Additionally, injuries woes were not exclusive to the Hurricanes. Minnesota made the playoffs despite being without its top two goaltenders for a large chunk of the season. Detroit, among other things, had to play without two of the best forwards in the league in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk for almost half of the 2013-14 campaign.

All the same, Karmanos doesn’t want to blame his coach for something out of his control and he remains upbeat going forward.

“I think (Francis) has got a great opportunity to do something special,” Karmanos said.

Related:

Rutherford: Canes ‘might have been the most frustrating team to watch in a long time’

Francis to lead ‘fresh start’ in Carolina; Muller’s future uncertain

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