© Chris Szagola/The Associated Press
Winnipeg Jets' Claude Noel talks thing over with assistant coach Pascal Vincent during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Friday, Nov. 29 in Philadelphia.
Winnipeg hires Paul Maurice
TORONTO — Claude Noel is out as coach of the Winnipeg Jets, replaced by Paul Maurice.
Noel was fired amid a five-game losing streak that dropped the Jets to 19-23-5 and 10 points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Noel, hired after the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg before the 2011-12 season, went 80-79-18 during his tenure with the Jets.
Assistant Perry Pearn was also fired.
Maurice inherits a team that has struggled in its third season in Winnipeg thanks in part to inadequate goaltending and defensive breakdowns. The 46-year-old has been behind the bench as an NHL head coach for 1,084 games.
“I would imagine the strategy for him, he’d be a little bit of a detective going in there.” said Jeff O’Neill, who played for Maurice in Carolina and Toronto. “He’s going to find out what the problems are and he’s going to address the issues. And that’s probably the first order of business.”
Maurice’s first game will be Monday at MTS Centre against the Phoenix Coyotes. This will be the third franchise he has coached, after the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
O’Neill said he has a better appreciation for Maurice as a coach after working with him at TSN.
“Just some little things he’s pointed out and some of the things he would do kind of got my attention and made me realize this guy is a good coach and is probably a good fit there,” O’Neill said in a phone interview.
Maurice seems to be a different coach now than he was when he broke in with the Whalers in 1996-97. Along the way he got the Hurricanes to the 2002 Stanley Cup final and made five total playoff appearances with Carolina.
“Obviously he knows what works and what doesn’t work now,” O’Neill said. “I think maybe when he was younger he thought he had to be a hard ass all the time for guys to kind of buy in and believe it, and then later on the message didn’t have to be that because he was established, he had coached so many games.
“He’s dealt with adversity before. He knows how to handle these situations because in Carolina we had some teams that weren’t very good and he did get a lot out of us for the talent that we had on the roster.”