Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wounded hand keeps Winnipeg's Kane off ice

Maurice anticipates sniper will return soon

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MAKE no mistake, Paul Maurice is exactly like every hockey coach all over the planet: the more talent at his disposal, the easier his job gets.

And so while the Winnipeg Jets boss is eager to get an up-close-and-personal look at sniper Evander Kane, he doesn't want to rush his young gun back from a hand injury. Kane hurt his hand in a fight with Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Eric Brewer a week ago and skated briefly on Sunday before exiting practice.

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Kane had an off-ice workout Tuesday at the MTS Iceplex, but was not on blades with the rest of his teammates.

"Soon, I guess," said Maurice when asked for a timetable for Kane's possible return. "He's got the injury on the paw and, for me, I don't want him back until that thing's healed because the infection in those can cause problems all year and sometimes permanently. So, we're going to be really, really careful with him.

"It's not like anything's broken, it's just a matter of healing it and once he does he'll be 100 per cent ready to roll."

THE LEADERSHIP QUESTION: Maurice is still getting a feel for the hand he's been dealt. But when the question about the Jets' leadership was broached Tuesday, he did offer an interesting take based on his time with the squad on the bench during Monday's win over Phoenix.

"I know enough people around the league that when I get the job I get calls on just about every player," said Maurice. "And I can tell you I'll start with our captain (Andrew Ladd): he has got enormous fans by the guys who played with him.

"The leadership right now is the coaching staff. There's a new coaching staff and they follow, we lead, and we'll hand it back off to them at some point in time. But, I have absolutely no problem with the leadership. I know (Olli) Jokinen and (Mark) Stuart understand the game... their different styles of game, but there is veteran leadership there in that group. I'm going to say I have absolutely no problem with it, with the caveat I haven't been here long enough to make that assessment.

"What was really interesting was listening to them and hearing what they had to say about what was going on out on the ice and thinking, 'We're going to have to do more video with him... that guy could be a coach,'" added Maurice. "There's different things you hear. I enjoyed that.

"Listen, there will be lots of nights I'm out here growling, but that was one of the most enjoyable nights of my entire hockey career."

AND ONE MORE THING: Again, Maurice has been in Winnipeg for all of a couple of days. But he was impressed with the talent at his disposal and its possibilities. Now it's a matter of adding some structure to their game.

"There's a certain skill level here that's a little bit unique," said Maurice. "We have some things we have to work on, I understand that, but there's some skill level here. There's a tendency when things are going bad to pound that out of the players and not allow them to do anything and you take some of that away from them. I don't feel that in our group, they're willing to make plays.

"I'm going to simplify some of what they do so we're not trying to be creative or create something every time we touch the puck. (Dustin) Byfuglien's pass to (Devin) Setoguchi last night is off structure... it's a great play. 'Freelance' isn't the right word. But the play, in seeing that, has nothing to do with the coaches. That's the belief and confidence in a player to make that happen."

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 15, 2014 0

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