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Maurice wants his quiet team to talk more on bench, in room

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A personality transplant will be impossible, but what Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice is trying to do with his team goes well beyond what he can draw on a whiteboard.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/10/2014 (3020 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A personality transplant will be impossible, but what Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice is trying to do with his team goes well beyond what he can draw on a whiteboard.

For all the systems and game behaviours the coach is monitoring and adjusting, he has also noticed a behavioural issue he believes must change if up is the direction of the future.

“On any team, there’s going to be a whole range of personalities and it does seem like this is a quieter team,” Jets centre Bryan Little said Friday. “Our captain is a pretty quiet guy. But he (Maurice) kind of challenged us to all step up and be leaders. Even the young guys can step up and have a voice in the dressing room.

Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop (30) stops Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) right during the first period of Friday's game.

“It’s true. I think we do play better when guys are talking in here and talking on the bench. We respond better to it.”

The quiet characteristic seems to rise up when things with this team — and that has been frequently — aren’t going that well.

Maurice has been dropping the idea of improving that area into various conversations since the season has started and one ally he’ll surely have in this social area is right-winger Dustin Byfuglien.

“It’s just lightening up the mood in the room, about being happy,” Byfuglien said Friday. “It’s about coming here and enjoying themselves while they’re at work.

“Be talkative. Anybody can say whatever they want, and don’t take offence if it’s bad or good.

“Everyone needs to be just a bit more vocal.”

This is surely one of Byfuglien’s strengths. While sometimes reclusive with reporters or in public, his teammates will tell you he is usually a gregarious extrovert.

“I guess, I don’t know, in a way,” he said to that on Friday. “Everyone’s got their own way of leading. Mine is a little bit more outgoing, to make sure this room’s loose rather than having everyone uptight all the time.

“It’s just like trying to make Bryan smile, to get everyone to talk out there. That makes the game much easier on everybody.”

Byfuglien said Friday the players take sharp notice of how Maurice is going about his plan to reshape the team, be it the simple X’s and O’s or the stern-but-supportive teacher-like persona he casts in lieu of just ripping publicly on his team.

“It comes with our job, that we know it’s not going to be easy no matter what we do around here,” Byfuglien said. “We’re a family and we’re going to stick together. That starts with him (taking) that heat. We know he’s got our backs and that we’ve got to come out here and just do our jobs. He’ll do his and that’s how it goes; we’re a family.

“We know he’s a good guy and he knows how to lead us, knows how to do his job here. That’s a real key. We know we have trust in him and that’s a big thing.”

That’s not to say turning the Jets’ silent types more vocal will be a short or easy process, but it appears to be underway.

“I believe it is important that they talk,” the coach said again Friday. “It’s a bigger function of youth. You have older players that are established in their game and they say one or two things.

“Go back, and you’ve seen all the interviews with Joe Sakic or Steve Yzerman, the great leaders, They didn’t say very much. They were quiet leaders. But whenever they said something, people listened.

“There’s a whole group of (young) guys in there. They don’t need to wait. They don’t need to do that. We need to become connected as a group.”

The team’s youngest players, Jacob Trouba, Adam Lowry and Mark Scheifele, are integral to the transformation Maurice envisions.

“We have a young group,” the coach said. “The one dynamic in our room is, I think (the) young players are really well-respected because they’ve done it right. The veterans, in part, have been really good in allowing us to be a young team and letting their personalities come out a little bit, without that tamping down that happens to a kid, who’s got to get on the elevator last and all the other things that the rookies have to do.

“Maybe that’s still there but it’s also a function that the three younger players … they’re not sitting on the fourth line. They’re key pieces to our group. They have, by virtue of their roles alone, a voice in our room.”

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

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