Paul Maurice is staying in Winnipeg.
Brought in mid-season on an interim basis to replace the fired Claude Noel, head coach Maurice and the Jets agreed to a four-year extension Wednesday.
When Maurice inherited the bench from Noel in mid-January, the Jets were mired in a season-worst five-game losing streak. They were 19-23-5 and 10 points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Under Maurice, the team promptly embarked on a winning streak. The Jets finished 11th in the conference and seven points back of the final wild card spot. The Jets finished 18-12-5 under Maurice after winning four of their last six in April.
“I want to be coaching the Winnipeg Jets next year,” Maurice said Sunday.
Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., the 47-year-old Maurice had been working as a TV analyst for TSN & NHL Network after spending the 2012-13 season as head coach of Magnitogorsk Metallurg of the Kontinental Hockey League. The club earned a 27-13-12 record and missed the playoffs.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd gave his coach a ringing endorsement on the weekend, after the team missed the playoffs for the third straight year since relocating to Winnipeg from Atlanta.
“I want him back,” Ladd said. “I think he’s a great coach and a great mind and is really good for this group and I think everyone in that room loves to play for him so when you have something like that and you have group that’s willing to work… then you want a guy like that back.”
Maurice has been behind the bench for 1,119 games as an NHL head coach and has a record of 478-469-172. The Jets are the third franchise he has coached, after the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes and the Toronto Maple Leafs. He got the Hurricanes to the 2002 Stanley Cup final and made five total playoff appearances with Carolina.
“He’s an impressive hockey coach, but he’s an impressive person as well. We believe we’re just scratching the surface on the impact he can make.,” Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. “He’s excited to get his family situated in Winnipeg.
“When you bring a coach in, they have their own philosophy, beliefs and methodology,” Cheveldayoff added. “Paul believes in an up-tempo game.”
(with files from CP)