CLAUDE NOEL loved being the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets for 21/2 years -- some days more than others.
That much was evident in the note he left for his successor Paul Maurice after cleaning out his office following his dismissal Sunday.
"I didn't see it when I first came in. I got in for the game and read the note... it's really special," said Maurice after practice Tuesday.
"The point (of the note) was: there are very special people here. It's a great town, he made that point. Great organization, great players. When you get fired you're dealing with a lot of tough emotions and for him to take time... that just shows how much he cares and the quality of the man that he is. I really appreciated that.
"He grew to love the team and the town. He's a good coach."
Maurice has made reference to his new digs a few times since his hire and it's not just the thrill about being behind the bench of an NHL team again. He coached here with the Carolina Hurricanes and raved about the environment then.
But now that he's a part of it...
"The closeness you feel, even as a visiting team when you come here... there's not three million people," he said.
"This is their team and the reaction to getting their team back, and then in that building and the passion the town has... this is a special place. Every place is more special when you're winning, it's not so when you're losing, but this could be such a team-community-bonding story. And Claude felt that."
Maurice said he hoped to be able to reach out to Noel once things settle and thank him for the note.
"Maybe when things get more settled," he said. "Listen, I've got four hockey bags at the hotel that aren't even remotely close to unpacked. So, I've still got some work to do here before I get things done and about 150 texts I've got to get back to people. At some point when things get unpacked I absolutely will thank him for some of the real good work he did here that we will benefit from that doesn't get appreciated in the weeks and months prior to being here in this new job. I'm speaking from experience."
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