Winnipeg Jets bench boss Paul Maurice coached in Toronto for two years, so he can speak to the atmosphere as well as anybody.
So, fire away Paul!
“If you’re saying something good about a player, he’s a rock star, and if a guy has a tough night and you want to deal with the media honestly, you’ve got to be careful about how hard you go at his play because then the next day or maybe even that day, it’s a drive-by shooting,” Maurice said Friday, per the Canadian Press.
“They’ll find something that’s not going and it’s 40 people in the stall figuring out whether they should trade him, play him more or execute him.”
Maurice is known for speaking candidly with media — earlier this year, he responded to a reporter’s query about the Jets’ dressing room accountability by saying “I could make you cry in that (expletive) room” — so today’s comments don’t come as a huge surprise.
And heck, Maurice isn’t even the first ex-Leafs coach to reflect negatively on his time in Toronto this year; back in early January, former bench boss Ron Wilson fired several shots at the core group of players, including Phil Kessel.
“Some of the core players have failed under two or three coaches so it’s got to be the player’s fault,” Wilson said in a radio interview. “You’d have to surmise that some of them might be uncoachable.”
“You can’t rely on Phil. Phil’s problem, and I think it’s pretty much how Phil’s been his whole career, is that he is two weeks on and two weeks off.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Maurice’s latest comments are taken, though. The focus will primarily be on the drive-by shooting line — because, y’know, some might have a tough time finding the lighter side of a drive-by — but Maurice did offer some insightful stuff on coaching in Toronto, including the admission he never felt he truly figured out how to deal with the market.
“It takes a while to get a handle on it,” he explained. “I don’t know that I ever did.”