The Winnipeg Jets players got their first look at their new head coach Paul Maurice this morning during a brief, but high-intensity, practice at MTS Centre.
With the Jets set to play the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at MTS Centre, this morning’s 25-minute skate was a baptism by fire for the Jets players under their new boss.
And for some of them, game-time tonight cannot come soon enough.
With all the upheaval of the past 36 hours that’s surrounded the Jets -- Claude Noel was fired and Maurice was hired Sunday morning after the Jets recorded their fifth consecutive loss, 6-3 to Columbus, Saturday night -- Jets forward Bryan Little says he is eagerly anticipating game-time tonight.
"It will be kind of nice to get out there and play. Once you get out there, you kind of forget everything that’s happened and you can just play the game. I’m looking forward to it," said Little.
But if frustrated Jets fans are hoping to see an immediate turnaround in their team tonight simply because there’s a new guy in a suit behind the bench, players cautioned that might be a bit much to expect.
"It definitely feels a like a bit of a fresh start and that’s sometimes good for a team," said defenceman Zach Bogosian. "But I don’t know how much changes you can do in 24 hours."
Actually, quite a bit judging by the new line combinations in evidence at practice this morning, which included Michael Frolik moving up to the top line to play with Little and captain Andrew Ladd; Dustin Byfuglien remaining at forward but moving to a new line with Olli Jokinen and Devin Setoguchi; and Mark Scheifele now centering a line between Blake Wheeler and Chris Thorburn.
One thing that won’t change tonight, however, is the starting goaltender, with Maurice giving the nod to Ondrej Pavelec.
And another thing that won’t change is the status of Evander Kane, who missed Saturday night’s loss to Columbus with a hand injury and sat out practice again Monday morning, watching from the bench in street clothes.