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Peterborough Petes punt Mike Pelino, give Jody Hull audition as coach

Former NHLer and Petes alumnus Jody Hull (OHL Images)Instead of singing Deck The Halls in Peterborough, the Petes' board of directors is rearranging the deck chairs.

The floundering OHL franchise, which was taken to account Thursday by beat writer extraordinaire Mike Davies in a fairly searing column noting "the coaches ... also have to be held to task for not developing players to their fullest potential," has fired lame-duck coach Mike Pelino. The Petes have won less than one-third of their games across the past 2½ seasons under Pelino, who had never been a head coach in the Ontario league.

From the team's statement:

“It became quite apparent that we were not going to extend Mike Pelino’s contract past this season, and we felt as a Board of Directors that a change was needed sooner rather than later,” says Petes President Jim Devlin. “Jody Hull will take over Head Coaching duties for the remainder of the season alongside Assistant Coach Wayne Clark and Goaltender Coach Andrew Verner. With approximately half of the regular season remaining Jody will have the opportunity to show his abilities as a Head Coach in the OHL.”

It is too late for this season, as alluded to on BTN on Wednesday and on previous occasions. (Although, really, anything about the Petes in this forum is just a clearinghouse of Davies' dogged chronicling of what's become the Ontario league's most hard-done-by franchise.)Hull is a Petes alumnus and that might count for a lot with appeasing former players who are frustrated by the Petes' string of second-division finishes, which actually began in 2006-07 while popular GM Jeff Twohey was still on the job. (Twohey was replaced in 2010 by Dave Reid, which has not exactly panned out.)

There probably is a side argument that the Petes arguably waited too long to move out Pelino; an earlier sacking might have given them time to at least stay on the playoff bubble and have a glimmer of hope come January. Neither the Erie Otters or Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds hemmed and hawed about making changes earlier this season. Some will also ask if Hull will be accepted as coach when he's taking over under these circumstances and when he could be seen as part of the coaching issues, just saying.

Davies' must-read column notes the problems are top-down, throughout the OHL's longest continuously operating club.

... so many fans have jumped off the sinking ship it isn't worth throwing life preservers to few when those life preservers have holes in them. The fans aren't stupid, they know the year is lost. It's better to make moves to insure next year isn't also lost.

This team has drifted aimlessly for far too long. Waiting for new board members to come in at the end of January is too long to wait to make decisions on the direction this team has to go in before the Jan. 10 OHL trade deadline.

There isn't a level of this organization which doesn't bear responsibility.

The executive made a mistake in hiring an inexperienced Dave Reid as general manager, erred in allowing him to cripple the team with devastating player personnel decisions and waited too long to correct it.

The coaches have had many hurdles to overcome in terms of off-ice instability, injuries, having top players dealt away without adequate replacements. But they also have to be held to task for not developing players to their fullest potential. Good coaches get players to play above themselves and teams to overachieve. It's happened in fits and spurts in the past couple of seasons but like an old engine sputtering in the cold, it's never caught hold and roared to life, it's continually stalled. (Peterborough Examiner)

The Petes' problems might not turn around with just a new GM and a head coach. Based on everything reported, a culture change is needed. Meantime, the so-called Sean Day derby that is the race to the bottom between the Petes (20 points in 35 games) and Ottawa 67's (21 in 36) might well be on. The Petes, through all their tribulations, have never been bad enough to finish dead last and draft a player who can rejuvenate the franchise. They have reached their nadir at the same time a division rival is fulsome about praising the potential next exceptional talent to enter the OHL.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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