Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice has his devotees and detractors. Now, the debate on his suitability to guide the NHL squad through an uneven 2019-20 NHL campaign and beyond will continue to rage.
Maurice isn't going anywhere, agreeing to a multi-year contract extension, the NHL organization confirmed Wednesday morning. No contract terms were released.
The 53-year-old bench boss won't be available to the media until after Thursday's morning practice at Bell MTS Place. The Jets (29-24-5), a point below the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, host the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.
In a story on the team website, Maurice said reaching a new deal to remain with the organization was an uncomplicated matter.
"We had met in the summer and it was the direction we all wanted to go. We were excited about it," said Maurice. "Then as we all know, a whole bunch of things happened. It was kind of on the backburner and eventually we all knew it would be taken care of and it has recently.
"Priority one is you have a family and you want them to enjoy their lives as well. Winnipeg has given us so much more than we've given the city," added Maurice. "For my kids, their friends, my wife as well, this is truly our home now. Being able to stay and work — I think we were staying one way or another — but being able to stay and work for the Winnipeg Jets is perfect."
Winnipeg was dumped 4-1 by the visiting New York Rangers on Tuesday night to halt a three-game winning streak. The Jets had a horrible month of January (3-8-1), winning just once during an eight-game stretch, but are 4-1-0 this month to vault back into the playoff picture.
Overall, Maurice has a 264-186-53 record with the Jets since taking over the bench midway through the 2013-14 season. The team has made the playoffs three times, including a run to the conference final in 2018.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., product also guided the Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs during his 22-year NHL coaching career.
Maurice and Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff were initially given extensions in September 2017.
Maurice, who replaced Claude Noel behind the bench on Jan. 12, 2014, earned his 700th NHL coaching victory earlier this season — a 1-0 shootout win over the visiting Edmonton Oilers. He is sixth in NHL history for games coached (1,587) and seventh for wins (724) but also first for defeats (643).
Now with 502 games with the Jets, Maurice is the second-longest-serving active coach, trailing only Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper (565).
"You want to enjoy your professional life. Over the course of the hours of the day, it's where you spend all your time. I love working here," said Maurice. "There are lots of challenges that come with a young team, but that keeps you moving and growing as a coach and getting better."
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Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).
Updated on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 2:50 PM CST: Adds quotes.