Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Maurice seems like lock for permanent coach's job

Still has to discuss move with his family in Ohio

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IT seems all but a given now -- Paul Maurice will soon get his own nameplate on the front door of the Winnipeg Jets head coach's office.

"I want to be coaching the Winnipeg Jets next year," said Maurice during his season-ending press conference at the MTS Centre on Sunday.

Maurice has several meetings planned in the next few days and indicated he'll be watching every playoff game this spring and then studying the trends and tendencies of each team.

In the meantime, the biggest meeting in his future -- other than when his agent chats with GM Kevin Cheveldayoff about a new deal that will replace the interim one -- will be with his family.

Maurice's crew is based in Columbus, Ohio and while his kids have already toured schools in Winnipeg, he won't uproot them without first getting their green light first.

"I promised I wouldn't (move them) again and I need to be sitting with them when we talk about it," he said. "We'll do the players meetings, be done by the end of (Sunday) then we've got organizational meetings in the early part of this week and then sometime in the mid-part of this week we'll sit down and talk about that.

"First we have to agree that the work was appreciated on both sides. From my (standpoint) we have to figure out what that work was worth and then we'll have to make sure it's good for both families.

"This has nothing to do with Winnipeg," added Maurice. "It's, 'Can I move them again?' I'm Canadian, my wife's Canadian. I grew up in northern Ontario. I remember snowbanks like this.

"People are great. I really like the locker-room, so it's not a Winnipeg issue. It never has been for me."

The Jets were 18-12-5 under Maurice after he replaced Claude Noel on Jan. 12 following a five-game losing streak that dropped them to 19-23-5. The change in voice/message had an immediate impact as the team went 11-3-1 in its first 15 games under Maurice before injuries and a March swoon dropped them out of the playoff picture.

"(The coaching change) got our group going and gave our group new life," said captain Andrew Ladd. "It was big for a lot of guys. It seemed like we were stuck in a little bit of a rut at that point and we needed something going and Paul did a great job of coming in and he had the attention of our group.

"As a group I thought we did a great job of really following what he was trying to preach and doing the right things."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 14, 2014 C2

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