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Two decades of Paul Maurice, NHL head coach

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This post is part of Jets Day on PHT…

If a typical NHL coach listed perks of the gig, “great job security” wouldn’t make the cut very often. Even a Stanley Cup ring (or two) won’t save them from the cutting block in plenty of cases.

With that in mind, let’s take a step back and just admire the persistence of Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice. Is persistence the better word, or would it be wiser to describe his longevity as … stealthy?

It might be hard to believe, but Maurice has been employed as an NHL head coach consistently since 1995-96. No, that’s not a typo. Check out his hockeydb page if you need proof/also want to see a photo of Young Paul Maurice.

Long story short: Maurice has been an NHL head coach since before the Carolina Hurricanes and “South Park” existed.

A timeline of Paul Maurice’s career

I’ve added some notes for bigger achievements, changes, and so on. Note that this rundown lists every time his teams made it to the postseason. (If a season isn’t mentioned, it’s because he remained employed but his team missed the playoffs.)

1995-96: becomes assistant and then head coach for the Hartford Whalers, coaching 70 games.
1997-98: The Whalers become the Carolina Hurricanes; Maurice can’t get them to the playoffs for a third straight season.
1998-99: Maurice’s first team makes it to playoffs, loses in first round.
2000-01: Another first-round exit
2001-02: Hurricanes fall in the 2002 Stanley Cup Final, Maurice’s lone appearance.
2003-04: Maurice is fired 30 games into the season.

So, in his first stint with Carolina/Harford (1995-96 to 2003-04), his team missed the playoffs five times and made it three times. There were two first-round exits and that remarkable run to the 2002 SCF.

2005-06: Takes Toronto Marlies to AHL playoffs in lone season with the team … they lose in first round.

2006-07 to 2007-08: Fails to bring Toronto Maple Leafs to playoffs in two seasons.

2008-09: Second stint with Hurricanes begins with 57 regular season games. Hurricanes lose in Eastern Conference Final.
2011-12: Fired by Hurricanes 25 games into season.

2012-13: Took KHL’s Metallurg to playoffs … first-round exit.

2013-14: Misses playoffs during first season with Winnipeg, coached 35 regular-season games.
2014-15: Lone playoff appearance as Jets coach. Thrashers/Jets franchise still lacks a single playoff win.
2015-16 to 2016-17: Misses playoffs.

/wipes sweat off brow

In summary, Maurice’s teams made the playoffs five times during his NHL coaching career. Two of those runs included series wins, with five overall. His teams won two Southeast Division titles. Check the bottom of this post for more perspective on his “quantity vs. quality” career.

Young and resilient

All of that aside, the point here isn’t that Maurice is necessarily a “bad coach.” Instead, it’s meant to remark upon just how rare his situation is.

Really, you can get into a philosophical discussion about how much any coach could have managed in Maurice’s situations. The Hurricanes/Whalers faced struggles in building rosters and in their market. The Maple Leafs are the only true “big budget” team Maurice coached, and he came in during a difficult time for the franchise. Just ask Ilya Bryzgalov about how much of a free agent “lure” Winnipeg can be in the eyes of many, a factor that likely didn’t help the Jets in the often-grueling Central Division.

Maurice became the second-youngest NHL coach to reach 500 wins (at the time) in 2015, and he weathered quite the storm with the Hurricanes/Whalers early on, learning the ropes at just 28. And other coaches noticed, as San Jose Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer related to NHL.com:

“There’s only a handful of guys I know that you could stick behind a bench at [28] and they could survive and still carve out a career,” DeBoer said. “That shows you how special his communication skills are, how big of a presence he is in a dressing room.”

Maurice has two decades of NHL coaching experience, yet he’s only 50.

He’s always looking to learn, and Maurice rarely deployed star-studded rosters … and especially rarely enjoyed great goaltending.

***

Is Maurice great, bad, or somewhere in between? That’s tough to say, but give him credit for fighting hard enough to at least always be around.

If Steve Mason and Connor Hellebuyck can actually deliver steady goaltending for the Jets, we may finally get a better idea of what Maurice is truly capable of.

Bonus: More on his resounding longevity

According to Hockey Reference, Maurice has coached 1,365 regular-season games and 57 postseason contests. His regular season record overall thanks to the NHL’s shifting standings systems is: 596-569-99-101, with a points percentage of .510.*

Hockey Reference’s NHL Coach Register has some useful listings to provide some context for his career. Maurice has coached the 11th-most games according to their listings. One must reach down to Brian Sutter (1,028 games coached, .517 points percentage) to find a comparable coach.

Paul Maurice: Not in a happy place after Canadiens blow out Jets

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Why say the Winnipeg Jets “struggled” in a 7-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens when you could instead say that they were “horse [blank] from the drop of the first puck to the end.”

That was Jets head coach Paul Maurice’s take on the defeat, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

While they scored their fair share of goals, the Jets obviously allowed buckets of chances, including two-goal nights by Phillip Danault and Artturi Lehkonen. (If you haven’t seen Danault’s end-to-end masterpiece, do yourself a favor and give it a look.)

You can see Maurice let his team have it during the second period of Wednesday’s game in a video above. Here’s more from Maurice:

If nothing else, his tough night did inspire a funny meme or two.

One can understand Maurice’s frustration, especially since it leaves them firmly outside of the West’s wild card rankings. They’re not hopeless by any stretch, yet with losses like these and Patrik Laine‘s concussion situation, you can understand Maurice losing his patience.

Maybe this is just the spark this team needed … or maybe we’ll look back at this as a breaking point for Maurice as Jets head coach.

Either way, it was a rough night for the Jets. And it showed.

Video: Paul Maurice says Paul Maurice is in a bad mood

After the Jets lost 4-1 in Calgary on Tuesday — their fifth loss in seven games — Paul Maurice looked like the head coach of a team that just needed to get away for a little while.

Then he met with the assembled media, and confirmed it.

In the third person!

“We’ll deal with what we’re doing coming out of the break, but this team needs some rest,” Maurice said, per the Jets website. “The coach has been in a bad mood for a long time and…. we need some rest, some separation.”

The Jets head into the Christmas break as one of the NHL’s biggest disappointments. After making the playoffs a year ago, they currently sit 24th overall with 32 points, eight back of Nashville for the final wild card in the Western Conference.

Maurice is clearly frustrated.

And that frustration might not be going anywhere.

Coming out of the break, the Jets have a pair of tough home games — against Pittsburgh and Detroit — before heading out on a five-game road swing through Arizona, San Jose, Anaheim, Nashville and Dallas (the Jets are an ugly 6-12-1 away from home this year).

The club is also dealing with the contract uncertainty of pending UFAs Dustin Byfuglien and the captain, Andrew Ladd.

With the trade deadline drawing closer, those storylines will only intensify.

Finally, there’s the issue of the club’s goaltending.

While Ondrej Pavelec has been erratic during his time as the club’s No. 1, his lengthy absence with a knee injury has proven costly. Michael Hutchinson has one win in his last 12 outings while prized prospect Connnor Hellebuyck has struggled recently, posting just an .883 save percentage in his last five games.

Paul Maurice has noticed how the Canucks are always playing tired teams at home

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Per TSN 1040’s Jeff Patterson, it seems Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice has uncovered a bit of a trend in the Vancouver Canucks’ home schedule:

The Jets play tonight in Vancouver. They also played last night in Edmonton.

As Maurice insinuated, this is not unusual for visitors to Rogers Arena. In fact, going back to the Canucks’ six-game home stand in late January, counting tonight, the visitors will have played the night before nine times out of 16. In all nine of those cases, Vancouver has had the day off prior. And yes, one of those nine times saw the Canucks beat the Jets in overtime after tying the game late in the third period.

Not that the Canucks have taken full advantage of their relatively fresher legs — case in point, they lost 6-2 to a “tired” Columbus team last week, and one of their most disappointing efforts of the season came versus a “tired” San Jose side on Feb. 5  — but it’s still a welcome benefit of being on the West Coast, given all the miles they’re forced to cover during the regular season.

Oddly enough, Vancouver is one of the few teams with a better record on the road (22-12-3) than it has at home (20-14-1).

Paul Maurice: ‘Tomorrow we’ll work like today never happened’

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The Winnipeg Jets, under their new head coach Paul Maurice, came out like a team on a mission Monday night.

Maurice was named the Jets’ new coach after Claude Noel was fired on Sunday. In Maurice’s debut, the struggling team before him skated all over the Phoenix Coyotes and earned a 5-1 victory on home ice.

The enthusiasm with the Jets’ raucous fan base came back, for one night.

The win improves Winnipeg’s record to 20-23-5. The Jets remain at the bottom of the Central Division, so there’s no room for complacency after just one effort like this.

That is why Maurice canceled the team’s day off scheduled for Tuesday. Instead, they’ll practice, as per Darrin Bauming of TSN 1290 Radio.

“I felt the energy on the bench, the compete on the bench, the way they treated each other on the bench. It was good,” said Maurice, as per the Jets’ Twitter account.

But then, he added: “It’s one game. Tomorrow we’ll go to work like today never happened.”