I took some time to ask a few questions of Admirals Roundtable contributor Ryan yesterday on the loss of their coach to the Hurricanes organization. As someone who has gotten to know Muller this season, and seen his coaching style first-hand, I wanted to hear his thoughts.
The strengths Muller is said to have involve his ability to couch a young team, and coax sometimes average guys into top-notch players.
Ryan had this to say:
“Kirk gets along well with everyone, and everything that the “scouting reports” say about his communication skills are true. His enthusiasm for the game is contagious, and it’s obvious that he loves every minute of his job. He was a great leader for this young team, and he’ll be great for the Canes.”
So what can the players, fans and media expect out of Muller in Raleigh? More positive things. A coach who inspires great things from the team, and motivates them.
“From the players that I had talked to, they loved playing for Kirk. With the media, he was never too high after a win, and never too low after a loss. And he NEVER threw any of his players under the bus, even when they deserved it.”
This is a great article from Fox Sports Carolinas. John Manasso is the former beat-writer for the Atlanta Thrashers, and therefore familiar with the Hurricanes organization. He has a good comparison of Eric Staal and Kirk Muller.
Muller was a player in the mold of Staal, as a long-time elite NHL forward. In fact, both were second overall draft picks. Muller was a six-time All-Star and a Stanley Cup winner in 1993 with Montreal. Staal is a four-time All-Star.
Muller was asked on Monday how he might be able to relate to Staal and get him going. He had yet to speak to Staal.
“Everybody’s human and we go through stretches in our careers where you face different issues and you go through highs and lows and I think it would be great to get an opportunity to sit down and talk to him,” Muller said. “I mean, he’s a workhorse. Everyone loves to have the big, power-type forwards and centers. He’s proven that he can be, obviously, one of the elite players in this game and I think sometimes when you go through your career, as a young guy and you’re surrounded by some good people, you go through your career and we all — whether it’s media people, fans or anyone — just assume star players always have the answers, but sometimes they need someone there for him to chat and talk and get some things out of them.”
So… what about the Checkers? How do they fit in with the Raleigh coaching change? Clearly, guys who have been in Charlotte for the majority of the season are going to get second and third looks by the staff in Raleigh. I’m not the only one mentioning the Zac(h)s and their potential contributions to the big club, even if it means sitting veteran guys. Dave Lozo at NHL.com mentions them as one of the keys Muller will need to work on. Muller has to turn the Canes into his team, and that may involve digging deeper into the depth charts. Muller’s strength is player development, and has experience with different systems, most-recently the defensively-minded play of the Predators organization. The changes made in Raleigh will trickle down to Charlotte.
And what about the Milwaukee Admirals, a rival in the Checkers own division? According to Ryan at the Roundtable, they are going to be fine. He wrote a great piece about the changes. Ian Herbers, the former assistant in Milwaukee, has been named the new head coach of the team, and they have a temporary assistant in place for the time being. Ryan says,
“I expect that our new coach, Ian Herbers, will pick up right were Kirk left off. “Herbie” has been an assistant here for a couple of years, so he knows the team and knows the systems already. Ian is a teacher first…he’s not as savvy with the media as Kirk was, but on the ice I have complete faith that he will continue to get the most out of this young group. There’s a lot of hockey still to be played.”
It’s going to be interesting to watch the Checkers under new reigns in Raleigh, and see how the Admirals fare, as well. The Checkers have a 2-1-0 record against the Admirals this season, with five more games to be played. I’ve said it from the beginning, that the Ads are a team the Checkers will have to play well against, because they are a team with just as much potential as Charlotte to make it far into the playoffs next spring.
Only time will tell! Until then, Let’s Go Checkers!