The Winnipeg Jets have extended head coach Paul Maurice to a multi-year contract.
The Jets have recently rebounded from a losing streak and currently sit fourth in the Central Division with 63 points.
The Jets’ head coach sat down exclusively with Global News’ Brittany Greenslade Wednesday morning and said re-signing with the team was an easy decision.
“It feels great. It was never really a concern,” Maurice said. “I think this is the fourth contract we’ve done with the Jets. The combined negotiating time might be ten minutes, it was that quick.”
Maurice, who has been open about his and his family’s love for Winnipeg, said this is home, no matter what.
“There was no decision for us,” Maurice said.
“Winnipeg has been fantastic for my kids, for my wife, it’s home for us.”
“I might have had to leave possibly to go work somewhere else but my family is staying here. This is home for us.”
Negotiations between Maurice, Jets’ owner Mark Chipman and General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff began in the summer but quickly got put on the back burner when issues with Dustin Byfuglien arose during training camp.
Maurice said he has stayed out of the loop when it comes to the Byfuglien situation.
“I met with Dustin three or four days after he decided that he wasn’t going to play and he seemed great. He seemed at peace with his decision,” he said. “In my mind, I wouldn’t have been surprised if at any one day he had walked through the door and said he was going to play and I wouldn’t have been surprised if that was the last game he ever played.”
“I’m hopeful for the man that he’s in a good place and I truly believe he is. I think he’s going to have a wonderful life, whether he’s a hockey player at some point, I just couldn’t tell you.”
Quick career look
Maurice was hired to replace former coach Claude Noel on Jan. 12, 2014.
One year later, as coach of the Jets, Maurice had his 500th win — an 8-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Jan. 13, 2015.
Maurice is now the second-longest-serving active coach in the NHL.
“I’m fortunate you know. I’ve had two really long stretches of working for an NHL team and been really fortunate with the general managers that I’ve worked with,” he said.
Throughout the league it’s been a difficult year for coaches, with seven being fired this season and Maurice said some years are clearly worse than others.
“There’s hunting season for coaches. It’s somewhere in the middle of November to the middle of December,” Maurice said. “There’s a bit of a domino when one or two go it’s more likely that that flips the switch. It makes it okay for the next GM to let the next guy go. They get on a little bit of a feeding frenzy.”
“We’re all aware of the fact we’re all getting fired at some point and you all have to move on and if that’s what you want to do for a living you live with it.”
He reached his 600th career win as a head coach in 2017, then his 700th career win against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 20, 2019.
On Feb. 6, his 500th game as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets was reached when the posted a nice little 4-2 win against the St. Louis Blues.
Whether it’s a win or a loss, there are fans with opinions and Maurice said he abstains from all social media. Regardless, it’s that passionate fan base that makes coaching and playing in a hockey city what he loves the most about his job.
“As a coach you don’t get to love everybody on your team and you have to make hard decisions on players,” he said.
“If you send a player down that’s on the back of their sweater, that they bought, that they wear to games… they’re not going to be very happy. But that’s an important part of it.”
“A passionate fan base is so much more important than 5,000 people in the stands and everyone loves you.”
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