Paul Maurice says he loves the Winnipeg Jets and the Jets obviously love Maurice, judging by the club's 9-3-1 record since he took over last month as the team's head coach.
But for all the mutual love, Maurice said Thursday following his team's practice at the MTS Iceplex that, by mutual agreement, he's still had no discussions with Jets ownership about a contract extension.
'What I like maybe most of all about this group that runs this team is that they have a plan and they're sticking to it. So we agreed to do it a certain way and I'm especially comfortable doing it that way'
And no, he says, it's not because a particularly harsh Winnipeg winter is scaring him off.
"It's balmy compared to Magnitogorsk," laughed Maurice, referencing the equally inhospitable Russian city where he coached in the KHL. "The climate is not an issue. Living here is not an issue. People have been great."
So why would Maurice prefer to wait until the end of the season to discuss what, if any, future he's going to have with the Jets?
"My first job is not as a head coach. My first job is at some point I have to be a father. I've lived in Russia, I've travelled. You know, the life of a head coach. And my kids have moved into an age that it's really critical this is a group decision. At the end of the day, we'll always do what's best for my family...
"If I'm going to walk in and talk to my family about moving, I want to be there when that happens. They're in school, they have exams, they're part of my team at home. We agreed we would discuss it at the end of the year, if there's anything to discuss. So my kids understand how this is going to work, too."
Maurice said the understanding he had with the Jets ownership last month when he took over from Claude Noel behind the Jets bench was both parties were committing to each other just for the balance of this season and no further discussions would take place until this season ends.
And he didn't expect that to change simply because the Jets got hot since he took over behind the bench and there was an Olympic break that might have afforded the two parties an opportunity to hammer out a longer-term contract.
"What I like maybe most of all about this group that runs this team is that they have a plan and they're sticking to it. So we agreed to do it a certain way and I'm especially comfortable doing it that way," said Maurice. "And then there's the other underlying undercurrent. You go back and take a look at any (coach) who ever signed an extension during the season, I guarantee you their record the next 15 games was terrible...
"From my point of view, I've enjoyed every minute of being here. I like this group. It's part of the reason why I wanted to coach this team and I took this job. But I'm not waiting after each win for someone to knock on my door. That's not the way it's going to go."
Maurice made the comments following another very quick and very spirited Jets practice at the MTS Iceplex, where the Jets returned to the practice ice for the first time on Wednesday following a 10-day break for the Winter Olympics.
Jets forward Mark Scheifele (sick) was absent from practice on Thursday and defenceman Toby Enstrom (lower-body injury) also did not practice for the second day in a row. Forward Devin Setoguchi (elbow) did return to practice, albeit while wearing a no-contact jersey, after missing Wednesday's session.
Jets Olympians Michael Frolik and Ondrej Pavelec, whose Czech team was eliminated earlier this week, are now en route to Winnipeg, a club spokesman said. Winnipeg's other two Olympians, Olli Jokinen and Blake Wheeler, are both still in Sochi playing for Finland and the U.S respectively.