Jets boss Maurice mad enough to start cussing

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They are winless in four and showcasing as much ferocity as a basket of new-born kittens, but if we've learned anything about the Winnipeg Jets in their three years here, it's this:

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/10/2014 (3029 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

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They are winless in four and showcasing as much ferocity as a basket of new-born kittens, but if we’ve learned anything about the Winnipeg Jets in their three years here, it’s this:

Nobody in the NHL does the soul-searching, looking-in-the-mirror thing better than this bunch.

So it was again Monday — just hours after a 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames; the team’s fourth in five games to start the 2014-15 season — the Jets gathered again to do some off-ice work and discuss what has gone so wrong, so early.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice listens to a question at media conference Monday.

They emerged vowing to be more vocal on the bench during times of adversity. They spoke about accountability, of keeping their confidence and of having each other’s backs.

But it was Paul Maurice who best represented the bubbling-over frustration of the moment during his daily session with the media afterward.

“Not happy being 1-4, but there is an opportunity with this group to handle it a certain way,” said the head coach. “Most importantly identify it, talk about it, communicate the concepts of what the adversity you are facing is now, why we’re facing this adversity and what has to happen to change it.

“I understand you in the media want the answers to those exact questions… that’s what we talked about in the room and that’s all you’re getting.”

Later, when the issue of accountability, handling adversity and the leadership group’s role in handling both continued to come up repeatedly during his address, Maurice — as calm and respectful-to-the-media coach as there is in the NHL — dropped the F-bomb in his scrum before apologizing.

“It’s not the players’ job to tell YOU about it. I don’t have to open this book up to you and tell you everything that goes on in the room,” said Maurice. “I can make you cry in the f ing room. Listen, I understand you have to work with what you’re given and I appreciate that. But the accountability in the room is fine. We deal with our problems directly.

“And I apologize for the profanity.”

The Jets opened the season with a 6-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes, but have posted four straight losses since, while managing just two goals. Maurice was bemoaning the freelancing players do when things go south, which effectively destroys any notion of adhering to systems.

“I understand at 1-4 we’re going to go looking for the people who have caused it,” said Maurice. “But I’m the head coach of this team and I also have an understanding of some things that have to get done here. They’re going to get done and it may be painful in doing it.”

For fans who have watched this team struggle with all of the above during its three-plus years in Winnipeg — and the winters before that in Atlanta — none of this is new. The players know what they are saying has all been uttered before. And they also know the only way to change anything is to change habits on and off the ice.

“We’re not where we need to be in a lot of areas,” said assistant captain Blake Wheeler. “That accountability… that’s been the favourite word around Winnipeg the last three years. I don’t buy into that word too much. Your actions on the ice speak louder than talking about it does, in my opinion.

Paul Maurice

“We have a difficult time with adversity, that’s what it comes down to. We get into certain phases of games. (Sunday) night, for example, the first period was dominant in our favour. We come out and make a couple mistakes in the second period and all of a sudden we’re running all over the place. There’s a lack of confidence in our ability to weather storms and fight through those things. We haven’t had success doing it in the past, so I think when we go through those times we panic a little bit as a team and that’s what gets us in the most trouble.”

Asked if the slow start means there should be urgency from within the room and from management, Wheeler said:

“Everyone from the top down needs to be on notice a bit. I think we all need to look in the mirror and try and decide what it’s going to take to get this thing moving in the right direction.

“We’ve dug ourselves a hole. On the bright side, there is a lot of hockey to play but it’s going to take a lot of effort and a lot of commitment to each other to get ourselves out of it. That’s where we’re at right now: The players need to come together and work our way out of it and start digging.

“It’s a process we need to work on to get ourselves to where we want to be.”

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

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Updated on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 6:32 AM CDT: Replaces photo, adds question for discussion

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