August 29, 2015


By Tim Campbell

Columnists

First, the good news... Paul Maurice loves a challenge

The bad news is he's got a huge one as the Jets' new coach

At the start of his tenure as the second coach of the Winnipeg Jets 2.0, there's good and bad news about Paul Maurice.

The bad news is the team he takes over still owns the same history and characteristics it had a week or a month ago -- just one playoff appearance in Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise history and in Winnipeg days, only infrequent proficiency at defence.

The good news is that the coach has shown a penchant for an open mind. He embraced learning and growth. And he says he's not afraid of a challenge.

The 46-year-old native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., put those words into action just more than a year ago when he accepted a job to coach the KHL's Magnitogorsk Metallurg.

The adventure of it, including his 27-13-12 record, goes straight to those points.

"My time in Russia was absolutely spectacular professionally," Maurice said Monday. "The hockey is so much different over there. After two months, (I) thought of every European/Russian player I ever had, I had totally underestimated what those guys went through.

"Not being able to speak the language was one thing. The food is different. Everything is different. More importantly, what we teach and hold as true and valuable is not the same as over there. These young guys come over and you're going to ask as a coach in two weeks for him to change his game? When he's done it for 18 years and been heralded as a great player coming out of Russia?

"And then after the two weeks when it's not done, you get mad at him and don't like him.

"I'm guilty of that."

The story revealed Maurice's discovery.

"The systems are different," he said. "The way they approach the game is different. There's some brilliance over there. Some of the hand skills are absolutely spectacular, how they develop their kids.

"The best part of the learning experience -- how do you teach when you can't communicate? How do you break a concept down to its simplest form to teach it when it's not easy?

"There was enough English over there with some of the European guys, the North American guys, that it was made easier. And the lockout helped.

"It was an absolutely brilliant experience, but the answer (on why he returned home) is I have three kids and a wife.

"They offered me a two-year extension, would have put me in a little different tax bracket. They pay you well over there, but I needed to be with my family. They needed me to be around. But they were happy to send me packing yesterday. I didn't get to the airport late."

Obviously, a few days a week as a TV analyst wasn't enough of a hockey routine for the Maurice clan.

Once the euphoria of being back in the saddle wears off -- there are, after all, just 30 NHL coaching jobs -- the hard work (see bad news above) will begin.

And that's where all of the lessons and growth will be required in Winnipeg.

Are you a patient man? Maurice was asked.

"When I need to be," he said. "Reasonably. I think there's a time for patience and there's a time for action. It's a funny word in hockey because we used it already once today.

"We need to become a more patient hockey club, but that has nothing to do with passivity.

"We need to be very aggressive, but patient in the understanding and confidence that we will play this way and play one way regardless of the adversity and have the confidence, then, that we'll have success doing that.

"We need some patience in our game."

Patience -- that's probably not what fans in a hurry for change want to hear at this stage of the mess. But trying to sort out the roads to bad and good news, the coach has at least started out by dealing straight and limiting promises.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 14, 2014 C3

History

Updated on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:30 AM CST: Formats fact box, adds video

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Scroll down to load more

Top