Maurice promises ‘an exciting, very aggressive brand of hockey’

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They are a draft-and-develop franchise, to be sure, but Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice, on the first day of his first training camp here, scuttled the idea that he’ll have any role in developing the team’s improving prospects on this year’s team.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/09/2014 (3064 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They are a draft-and-develop franchise, to be sure, but Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice, on the first day of his first training camp here, scuttled the idea that he’ll have any role in developing the team’s improving prospects on this year’s team.

“No, not if it means a short-term step back,” Maurice declared today when he meet reporters today at the MTS Centre.

Maurice, however, qualified a negative-sounding reply by explaining: “Age has nothing to do with it.”

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press '“The three major defensive even-strength systems ... we are changing something,' says Paul Maurice at the first media conference of the 2014-15 NHL season at MTS Centre.

“If a player can come in and play in a meaningful way, then his age has nothing to do with it,” he said. “I’ve never, ever put (a player) out the ice and said he doesn’t deserve to go out there and he’s not making us better but we’ll just let him go out there and go out and play.

“That’s the American League. This is about winning. You’re not developing a young man by putting him in a position that he can’t find some success.”

The Jets get onto the ice on Friday at the MTS Iceplex for the first time and start their pre-season schedule on Monday at home.

Many of the questions Maurice faced today were about expectations and the Jets’ failure to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs in their first three seasons in Winnipeg, and seven overall as a franchise.

“I got here July 15th,” he said about completing his family’s relocation. “My goal for this year especially is to start the process of this team and this organization to become a contending team, a top-10 team and looking at all pieces of our game and the way we operate.”

He laid it out without sugar-coating matters, especially the path to improvement.

“We have to become a better defensive hockey team,” Maurice said. “That’s the one metric, if you look at the last five Stanley Cups, you can rank whatever your advanced stats tell you are important, but of the successful teams, no Stanley Cup champion ranks in the top 10 of everything but the one area that’s consistent is that they’re good defensively.

“The league in a lot of ways is divided into thirds. There’s a group of teams that has a chance and they do, any of those top 10 do. And then you have your teams you don’t think will have a chance and then the group in the middle.

“We finished in the bottom third of the league last year in regulation and overtime wins and that’s where we are today. The work we put in starting tomorrow is the only way any of that changes.”

The coach also said he’s still got some assessing to do.

“Before we fully understand what we have, we’ve got to get them all flying in the same direction,” he said.

And he played the youth card that you’re going to hear plenty of this season. Again.

“We’re still in the discovery part of that,” he said. “It’s a function of our age. We have a younger group and interestingly enough we think we’ll be in that one-to-three range of youngest teams. We also have a fair amount of experience in those young years. So it’s an unusual dynamic.

“It’ll be finding out who we are so we’re putting them into that grinder of training camp and that process of continuing to make the details of our game better and then do the evaluating where our players are at.”

Maurice also said today that training camp will be big on integrating three new systems the team will use under his watch.

“We’re going to play an exciting, very aggressive brand of hockey and that’s by design… systems changes that better suit our team, where we can get more aggressive.

“The three major defensive even-strength systems… we are changing something. There’s going to be something that’s absolutely brand new to every player in that room.

“Because of that, we’re going to be (on that) just about every day. Repetition is a key piece to that. Other teams’ training camps are going to look different to ours.”

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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