Ever since Paul Maurice took over the reigns as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets, they have been a different team. Come game day, our Jets are currently the hardest team to beat in the NHL. No one in Jet Land would have ever predicted this change would have ended with these kind of results. In this article, I will give a more in-depth description on who Paul Maurice is, and to why the Jets need to keep him around.
Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Maurice played defense for the Windsor Spitfires, and was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. Maurice was never a Flyer though, his career got cut short while participating in a charity game. During the game, the puck ricocheted off his stick, and hit him in the eye. He was now given the permission to either be traded, or to step behind the bench. Maurice got the opportunity in 1993, to be the head coach of the Detroit Junior Red Wings, a team which was also owned by Windsor Spitfires owner, Peter Karmanos. In 1995, Maurice led the team to a second place finish in the Memorial Cup and a J. Ross Robertson Cup.
Getting his NHL start in Hartford, Maurice embarked on his biggest mission at the young age of 28. Remarkably, the pressure did not get to Paul, and he stayed with the Hartford-Carolina organization from 1995-2004. In Carolina, he fell just short of winning the Stanley Cup to the Detroit Red Wings in 2001-2002. A little irony there. Before coming to Manitoba, Maurice was the head coach of Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League for one season, but opted to be closer to his family, even after being offered a two year extension. Now 43, he takes on another challenge in Winnipeg. Upon his arrival, the Jets were on a cold streak. What happened next is now on the fringe of being a Disney finish.
On his 4th NHL team, Maurice has had his share of ups and downs. It may be his proven ability to be resilient, or the fact he is constantly learning which makes him so good. On game night, Paul becomes a student of the game. While talking to his players and taking time to realize each situation and what should be done, I believe he has helped us keep our composure many nights. In the past, we had seen our Jets trail off many games while down a goal, or two. The players are now playing with inspiration and the fans are getting more and more excited for every game. Fans are now seeing different lines, a coach whom talks to his players during games, and above everything, a confident team. The NHL can be a war zone on many nights, and I want Maurice to take us to battle for years to come.
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