Claude Noel has coached his last game for the Winnipeg Jets, and it wasn’t pretty.
The Jets’ loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night marked their fifth straight defeat, and Noel took the fall, as he was fired less than 12 hours later.
Noel finished his time with the Jets under .500%, in the three seasons since Winnipeg returned to the NHL. Noel finished his time with no playoff visits, although two great late-season pushes put them within two spots in each of the last two seasons.
The Jets’ losing streak was reaching such a length that it was hard to ignore. Winnipeg hasn’t won a game in 2014, after a three-game winning streak that gave Jets’ fans hope for the playoffs after all. Overall, the Jets’ win some, lose some style has gotten them nowhere in the standings, and the organization is losing patience with a team that can’t seem to build any momentum.
Noel has been in Winnipeg for the last four seasons, after spending time with the former Manitoba Moose AHL team that resided in the MTS Centre before the Jets came back to town.
Jets’ players put onus on themselves when they received news. Olli Jokinen had this to say upon hearing news of the firing:
“All of us should be embarrassed that we’re at the point where they had to fire the coach”
Anyway, the ship moves on. The Jets wasted no time filling Noel’s vacancy, and hired Paul Maurice as the Jets’ second coach in team history.
Maurice has coached the Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers, as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs. Maurice’s most recent NHL experience was in 2011, in his second stint with the Hurricanes. He was fired mid-way through the year, when the ‘Canes started the season with an 8-13-4 record. Since then, Maurice has coached Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL for one season in 2012-13. Maurice has made the playoffs in four of 13 seasons in the NHL. He lost in the Stanley Cup Final with the Hurricanes in 2002.
Jets’ captain Andrew Ladd is excited at the fresh start with Maurice:
“We’ll have to get excited about the system that he’s playing, and roles that he may have you in, and we’ll be auditioning for ice time.”
Maurice’s no-nonsense style already has analysts impressed with the hire, and he can be expected to make some changes immediately. He faces some tough decisions as Head Coach, such as what to do with Dustin Byfuglien, who played as a forward in the Jets’ loss the night previous.
Maurice won’t turn the season around, but he will provide the tough love that the Jets’ dressing room so desperately needs. Now, it is Kevin Chevaldayoff’s turn to make something happen, and either improve the Jets’ roster, or improve their prospect pool.
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