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Three coaches have been fired over the past week in the National Hockey League. First it was Washington’s Bruce Boudreau, then Carolina’s Paul Maurice hours later. Just forty minutes after his team defeated the Montreal Canadiens, Randy Carlyle was relieved of his head coaching duties.
All of this was to the benefit of Dale Hunter, who had been coaching the OHL’s London Knights, and Kirk Muller, a former Canadiens assistant who was coaching the Milwaukee Admirals prior to Maurice’s departure.
Then, in a move that wasn’t entirely shocking, Boudreau was back behind the bench of an NHL team, this time with the Ducks.
What does all of this have to do with the NHL’s Three Stars for the month of November? All of these recent coaching changes have been overshadowing today’s announcement.
While it’s obvious that the Three Stars system has been deflating over the last several years, it still carries a high honour, especially when awarded following a specific time period rather than just one game.
After Phil Kessel was named the NHL’s first star for the month for October, the Toronto Maple Leafs were involved in the awards once again. This time, however, it was not the league’s leading point and goal scorer. Rather it was Joffrey Lupul, the second half of what many are calling the league’s most dynamic duo.
Lupul, 28, was named the NHL’s third star for the month of November on Thursday.
In 14 games this past November, Lupul scored seven goals and added another 12 assists for 19 points. He also scored a hat-trick and picked up the game winning goal on November 2 against the New Jersey Devils.
Lupul now has 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points on the season, which is good enough for second in league scoring. That means that the top two spots in points are both owned by Maple Leaf players─Phil Kessel is first.
Lupul’s great contributions helped ensure that November would be a positive month for the Maple Leafs after the team went 7-3-1 in November. By the time November 5 had arrived, the Leafs sat at the top of the entire league with a record of 9-3-1 at the time. Toronto went 7-6-1 in November and is now fourth in the conference.
One big reason by Lupul was able to be so successful was one of his linemates, Phil Kessel.
Kessel, 24, has been ripping the league apart this season. He is tied for the league lead in goals with 16 and, as mentioned above, also leads the NHL in points with a total of 32.
He and Lupul have been dominant thus far on the power play, which has scored in eight consecutive games. They have combined for seven of the team’s 22 power play goals and have been the driving force behind the second most successful man advantage in the NHL.
Recent trade rumours have linked Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan to the Maple Leafs. Even though Carlyle has been let go, those rumours are still swirling. Perhaps they will now be put to rest with Lupul playing so well and the Maple Leafs winning again.
With today being the first day of December, it has yet to be seen if the Leafs can complete a turkey of Three Stars selections.
Lukas, a student at the University of Ottawa, covers the Toronto Maple Leafs on a part-time basis for The Hockey Writers. Contact Lukas at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter, @LukasHardonk.