Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Maurice happy being 'temp'

New bench boss eager to coach, jumped at chance

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One week into his new job as coach of the Winnipeg Jets, Paul Maurice said he's completely at ease with the short-term arrangement.

When he was hired to take over from Claude Noel Jan. 12, Maurice accepted the opening offer from Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to be in charge for the rest of the 2013-14 season, with more discussion to come at a later date.

Maurice, 46, was so eager to return to coaching, he didn't see lack of security. He saw only opportunity.

"I'm really comfortable with the arrangement," he said after Sunday's practice and wins in his first three games with the Jets. "Very, very comfortable with the men that I've dealt with. That's why I'm here.

"We'll discuss something at the appropriate time. After the first week is not it. I'm not waiting for a conversation to happen. You can go back and take a look; there have been a lot of coaches that re-upped in the middle of the year and my recollection is that their record after that is terrible. There's two guys I know."

What's in this for someone who had coached 1,084 NHL games before he came to Winnipeg?

"It's coaching," he said. "It's what I love to do. It's an unusual set of circumstances. But because it was an unusual circumstance.

"Who your head coach is is a really important decision to make. The one year that there was a changeover, there were 10 coaching jobs in a one-year period and nine of the 10 went to the coach who had a previous relationship with the general manager.

"And I understand that. That's the way it should be. So to get into something you should really know the people you're going to work with when you make that big a commitment, a long-term decision."

Previously, Maurice has been replaced at mid-season, and he's been the replacement during the year. He knows both ends and he's confident in his overriding desire to be an NHL coach.

"For me, it was perfect because I had liked this team, watched this team," said the former Southeast Division rival in Carolina. "So there was a real spark and an interest in for me. I wanted to get back behind the bench and coach.

"I've never mapped my career. I did the jobs I wanted to do. That's why I went to Russia. It was strange circumstances for me to agree to go back to Carolina (in 2008). But I did the exact same thing in Carolina; it was to the end of the year and I was getting paid by Toronto. There was no financial gain for me whatsoever to do that but I wanted to do it. That's why I'm here."

Maurice, who had been doing on-air work for TSN this season, said there was no internal debate about simply sticking to that when Cheveldayoff called.

"This was the first time that I've done (TV) that I've truly enjoyed it," Maurice said. "I felt I needed to do it because it made me better.

"The exposure is the side part of it. They say you need to do it for the exposure but I wouldn't have done it for the exposure. It forces you to be disciplined in how you watch hockey games.

"And you also get to meet more hockey people, not just TV people. I didn't play in the NHL, spent my first eight to 10 years in Hartford so you're not networking at that point. So I have a very small circle of people that I know in this league. I get to meet more people in hockey, pick more brains and be more disciplined doing it."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 20, 2014 C3

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