RALEIGH, N.C. -- Ron Francis wasted little time putting his stamp on the Carolina Hurricanes. One week into his new job as general manager, Francis fired coach Kirk Muller and most of his staff. Now leading a franchise that has made the playoffs just once in eight years, Francis cited the need for a "fresh start" and warned that nobody on the roster -- from the marquee names, to the grinders at the end of the bench -- is untouchable. "I dont think changing the coaches lets the players off the hook," Francis said. "I think there has to be a lot of responsibility on their shoulders as well to turn this thing around. Hopefully we can do that going forward." Francis, a Hall of Fame player and former captain and assistant coach with the Hurricanes, took control of the team last week when Jim Rutherford stepped aside after a two-decade run as its GM. As part of his first big housecleaning move, assistants John MacLean and Dave Lewis also were fired and goaltending coach Greg Stefan was reassigned back to the teams pro scouting department. Rod BrindAmour, a third-year assistant who was the captain of Carolinas only Stanley Cup-winning team in 2006, was retained because Francis said "Roddy really didnt have, in my estimation, a prominent role on this staff." Francis says its "an open search at this point," is looking for "a guy whos a teacher" with strong communication and leadership qualities and ideally would like to hire his new coach before the June 27-28 draft. "I dont really have anybody in mind," he said. "Well start (with) a few names were putting on the list, and well go forward looking at that list and see who is the best fit for our team going forward." Muller was 80-80-27 in three seasons with the Hurricanes, who havent made the playoffs since 2009, the longest active drought in the Eastern Conference. Carolina finished 13th in the 16-team East this season. "The biggest thing was our inconsistency," Francis said. "Some nights we looked like a great team and other nights, we really struggled, looked like we didnt know how to play the game at times." Muller, 48, made six All-Star teams during a 19-year career with six clubs, most notably New Jersey and Montreal. He had never been a head coach in the NHL and was in his first season coaching the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL when he was hired during the 2011-12 season to replace the fired Paul Maurice. The relentlessly positive Muller spent the past month in limbo, saying in mid-April that upper management had not told him anything about his job status and that he was going about his business as if he would remain the coach. While owner Peter Karmanos Jr. said late in the season that he liked the coaching staff, he added last week that it would be entirely Francis call whether to retain Muller. During his formal introduction as GM, Francis said his impending decision on Mullers status "needs due process." Mullers final year was plagued by subpar years from the four highest-paid players on the roster -- forwards Alexander Semin and Eric and Jordan Staal, and goalie Cam Ward. When Ward was asked during his exit interview if it was tough for Muller to get his message across in the dressing room, the goalie said "for me, obviously, Im going to avoid that one." Francis said he didnt sense much friction between Muller and the players. "You look at our team, theres guys who didnt play well. They were told that by us in the exit meetings," the GM said. "Theres always going to be situations where, as a player, if you dont like the coach, youve still got to perform." Scarpe Nike Outlet
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. The 26-year-old Sobotka injured his left leg playing for the St. Louis Blues in a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. The Blues said he would not recover from the injury in time for the Olympic tournament.SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara County district attorneys office declined to file charges against San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald in a domestic violence investigation stemming from his Aug. 31 arrest.Prosecutors said in a release Monday that they were unable to charge McDonald because of conflicting versions of what happened, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and a lack of co-operation by the alleged victim, McDonalds fiancee.All domestic violence complaints deserve our concern, sensitivity and careful review, District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in the release. After our thorough review of all the facts, we do not have evidence sufficient to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. McDonald committed a crime against his fiancee.The DAs statement said no one was left with significant injuries.McDonald has played all season despite outside pressure on the 49ers to bench him. He has 24 tackles, 15 of those solo, while starting all nine games for the 49ers (5-4).I appreciate the seriousness of the situation and I understand and respect that law enforcement had a job to do, which is why I co-operated fully with their investigation from beginning to end, McDonald said in a statement. I am relieved that the DAs office has rightfully decided not to file charges. I want to thank everyone who was supportive during this difficult time.The arrest came only days after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced stiffer penalties for players accused of domestic violence, including a six-week suspension for a first offence and at least a year for a second. That move followed scrutiny over former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rices two-game penalty stemming from his arrest on an assault charge in February.The issue of domestic violence is important to us, as it is throughout society, the 49ers said in a statement Monday. We have taken this allegation seriously, just as we have taken the principles of due process seriously. We have said from the beginning that we will consider the information available, allow the facts to lead to our decisions and respect the judicial process. Based on the information available to us and the District Attorneys decision not to file charges, there will be no change in Rays status with the team.According to the DAs office, the investigation determined that McDonalds fiancee, who was identified only as Jane Doe in the statement, struck McDonald during an argument at his home during his birthday party and he then tried to restrain her.ddddddddddddThe two scuffled and McDonald forcibly attempted to remove her from the home, the statement said.McDonald called a San Jose police officer, saying he needed to get a female out of his house, the statement said. The fiancee subsequently called 911 and that led to McDonalds arrest.According to a memo prosecutors sent to Rosen, both McDonald and his fiancee said she struck him first. The memo says her injuries were consistent with restraint and an ensuing scuffle, not an attack.McDonald and his pregnant fiancee got into the fight after a woman attending the party told her some women were getting too friendly with McDonald. McDonalds fiancee, who was sleeping upstairs, came down and confronted him, according to the prosecutors memo.She asked a woman talking to him to step outside, according to the memo, and the two got into a fight. McDonald grabbed her arms to restrain her, according to the memo, and at one point grabbed her neck, as he tried to remove her from the house. Both times he left visible injuries, according to the memo.Following the arrest, 49ers CEO Jed York, general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh repeatedly said they have zero tolerance for domestic violence, but rather than bench McDonald they agreed to let due process play out before making a decision about his future with the team. Harbaugh said he wouldnt allow any player found guilty of domestic violence to be on his team.He also said at the time that public pressure wouldnt affect how the 49ers handled McDonalds situation. An eight-year NFL veteran, McDonald has been a key member of one of the NFLs fiercest front seven units.Harbaugh took his player at his word.As Ive said from the very beginning, I was never there to stand up here and say what did or didnt happen, Harbaugh said Monday. The stance on domestic violence, that principle of being completely against it and also the principle for being for due process, and the respect of the judicial system, legal process, and that these are peoples lives, let the facts and the information lead to the decisions that we would make as an organization and that ultimately the authorities would make. They had a process, they had an investigative process that now seems to be concluded.___Associated Press Writer Sudhin Thanawala contributed to this report.___AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org
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