If he were so tempted, Winnipeg Jets’ coach Paul Maurice could study the prospects at the team’s development camp this week and then project what they might look like two, three or four years from now when he gets his hands on them.
But he won’t. After all, the difference between an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old can be dramatic both in physical and mental maturity.
And so the Jets’ coach pretty much spent Day 2 of the team’s D-camp doing what everybody else at MTS Iceplex did during two sessions on Tuesday: watch the 36 players in attendance closely to learn a little about their skill set
"I would say I’m the least important piece to this cog right now because these guys are going to change so much," said Maurice. "I’m really here so that when we’re talking about these players at training camp I understand their style. Some of these guys I’m going to want to put on lines, and it might not even be this year, but I’m going to watch them skate a little bit and when we’re putting teams together and D pairings together it will be with someone to compliment them to give them the best chance to compete at training camp.
"But there are teams in the past where the GM doesn’t want the coach at these things because you form opinions about these kids. ‘Casual’ is not the right word, but I’m not assigning a future to anybody out here based on this. I really like the way (Jets’ Player Development Coordinator) Jimmy Roy does this, the attitude and the theme of what goes on here. I’m just trying to familiarize myself more with the style of player than anything else."
The Jets’ prospects were broken into two separate groups for the practice sessions on Tuesday, a format that will continue through the conclusion of the camp on Friday. Working with the team today were Roy, Mike Keane, Dale Hawerchuk, Keith McCambridge, Mark Morrison and Dusty Imoo.
All this doesn’t mean Maurice, who spent a some time Tuesday signing autographs, isn’t just a spectator this week.
"This week I’m looking for them to work as hard as they possibly can and to enjoy it," he said. "It’s July. We want that compete level. I watch how they finish drills, what happens when they make a bad pass... that first body reaction, body language. It tells you what they’re feeling and where they’re at. But it’s about being careful not to assign too much of a future path based on this first week of July."