Canes coaches to stay; roles to be tweaked

From staff reportsApril 14, 2010 

Miss the playoffs, find a new job. For some coaches in the NHL, that's the case.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have fired Rick Tocchet. The Atlanta Thrashers today fired coach John Anderson. There probably will be more blood-letting in the ranks before it's over.

With that said, Canes general manager Jim Rutherford and coach Paul Maurice shared the podium today at a season-ending press conference. While the Canes had the stumbling start and early 14-game winless streak, while they missed the playoffs after reaching the Eastern Conference finals last year, Rutherford said he was pleased with the job done by the coaching staff in holding the team together and making a strong second-half run.

All the coaches will be retained, Rutherford said, although some responsibilities will be tweaked. With the Canes having their AHL team in Charlotte next season, associate head coach and director of player personnel Ron Francis will split time between Raleigh and Charlotte. So will Tom Barrasso, an assistant coach and director of goalie development.

"There were some things that were outside of the coaches' control, and outside Paul's control, that could not be fixed quick enough in those first two months," Rutherford said of the season. "When you get by that, and you look at what happened early in the season and you look at history of teams that have had that problem, most of the time things totally unravel.

"To Paul's credit, he continued to get these players to believe in themselves and rallied them. We just dug too deep a hole. ... I really believe Paul and the coaching staff did a extremely good job under the circumstances they had to deal with in the early going."

In other news:

-- Rutherford would not say how much money the team would lose this season but said the financial figure was one that owner Peter Karmanos Jr. "is not comfortable with."

"This was not as good a season as it was last season financially," he said. "Our ticket sales were down a little bit and our corporate sales stayed flat, so our corporate community stayed with us. And there's a lot of interest going forward next year, not only from our fans in season tickets but also in the corporate community.

"But with that being said, with us not generating as much revenue, then we don't get the same amount in revenue-sharing, so we get hit a little bit there and we get hit a little bit in gate receipts."

Rutherford said based on a soft economy and the team not performing as expected the first half of the season and missing the playoffs, "I think if you can call running a business at a loss ... it was respectable. We've had a lot worse years than we did this year."

-- Rutherford said he has talked to the agent for defenseman Anton Babchuk about a possible return to the Canes. Babchuk played in Russia's KHL this season.

"In the near future I will pursue ... trying to get him on a contract and bring him back," Rutherford said.

-- Rutherford is "pretty comfortable" Cam Ward's back issues will not be a

lingering problem moving forward. No decision has been made on whether Manny Legace or Justin Peters will be Ward's backup, and Rutherford said Legace has some interest in playing in Russia if the Canes don't offer a contract.

-- The Canes could look to move up in the draft but likely will stay in the No. 7 slot in the first round.

-- Rutherford said since the 2011 All-Star Game announcement last week the team had picked up 200-300 new season ticket holders.

-- The Canes likely will play a preseason exhibition game in Saint Petersburg, Russia, before opening the regular season with two games in Helsinki, Finland.

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