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Paul Maurice, Panthers head coach and hockey lifer, seeks first Stanley Cup: ‘I must win one’

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice got his start behind an NHL bench with the Hartford Whalers in 1995. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) Paul Maurice has been around the NHL for a very long time, which would make it seem like he’s older than his 57 years. The Florida Panthers head coach

Paul Maurice, Panthers head coach and hockey lifer, seeks first Stanley Cup: ‘I must win one’

Sean Leahy

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice got his start behind an NHL bench with the Hartford Whalers in 1995. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice acquired his begin behind an NHL bench with the Hartford Whalers in 1995. (Photograph by Dave Sandford/NHLI by way of Getty Photos)

Paul Maurice has been across the NHL for a really very long time, which might make it seem to be he’s older than his 57 years.

The Florida Panthers head coach has been behind NHL benches for therefore lengthy, his first teaching job within the league was with the Hartford Whalers in 1995 when he was 28 years previous.

Maurice stayed with the franchise throughout its transfer to Carolina, not getting a lot playoff expertise because the group was bounced within the first spherical or missed out solely over his first six seasons in cost. They made the Stanley Cup Closing in 2002, however misplaced to a Detroit Red Wings group stuffed with future Corridor of Famers.

Playoff success would elude Maurice as he moved on to the Toronto Maple Leafs for 2 seasons after which again to Carolina for one more 4 years. After a yr in Russia and the KHL, he took on the Winnipeg Jets job and turned the franchise round. However after 4 consecutive playoff appearances, he stepped down on Dec. 17, 2021, citing a necessity for the dressing room to have a brand new voice and that he gave the franchise all he might.

Maurice was solely 54 when he left the Jets, however he was an skilled 54-year-old. Regardless of that, he was prepared for that to be the tip of his teaching profession, if that is how life performed out.

The break from hockey wasn’t very lengthy, nevertheless. After a number of “phenomenal days of fishing” that summer season, Maurice modified his thoughts after receiving a name from Panthers common supervisor Invoice Zito.

Zito’s solely purpose for calling was to gauge Maurice’s curiosity in returning behind an NHL bench, not seeking to outright supply him the job throughout their first dialog. “After which we begin speaking hockey, and that was it,” Maurice stated throughout Friday’s Stanley Cup Closing Media Day.

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Not lengthy after, Maurice was hired. On the time, the Panthers had just one playoff sequence win since they reached the 1996 Stanley Cup Closing.

It wasn’t an awesome first common season below Maurice. The Panthers earned 30 fewer factors and 16 fewer wins than their 2021-22 Presidents’ Trophy profitable season. “I managed to get them right down to 92 in a single yr,” Maurice joked. “Good.”

However after a down common season, the Panthers acquired sizzling on the proper time and made a run to the Stanley Cup Closing earlier than falling to the Vegas Golden Knights in 5 video games.

A very young Paul Maurice behind the bench of the Hartford Whalers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

A really younger Paul Maurice behind the bench of the Hartford Whalers. (Photograph by Bruce Bennett Studios by way of Getty Photos Studios/Getty Photos)

Some groups expertise a hangover after a future to the Cup Closing within the earlier season. A 5-4-1 begin was rapidly flipped and the Panthers went on to win the Atlantic Division and shut down opposing stars over the primary three rounds of the playoffs to get to inside 4 wins of a championship — this time with the Edmonton Oilers serving as opponents.

Maurice’s message, prefer it had in his earlier stops, acquired by means of to his gamers. They’ve approached this season extra mature and disciplined on the ice. They nonetheless convey loads of physicality to video games, however in a a lot smarter method.

It is the Paul Maurice impact, and his gamers are conscious and grateful for what he is dropped at the group.

“He is such an incredible coach. He is one of the best one I’ve had,” stated ahead Matthew Tkachuk. “He is gotten me to turn out to be a greater participant than once I first began right here. I’ve acquired nothing however good issues to say about him.

“I’ve acquired a ton of respect for him, and I believe all of the gamers, in the beginning, you actually wish to win it for your self and your teammate subsequent to you. However I believe a man like Paul, it means so much to him, from all of us, seeing what he is carried out for us the previous two years. We undoubtedly wish to get it for him.”

Humor is a instrument Maurice makes use of in all conditions — with the media and his gamers. He is fast with a joke or a self-deprecating remark to alleviate stress. He could be fiery when obligatory, however that steadiness has performed together with his gamers, and the long-term impact has been a constructive one.

“[He’s] actually good at studying the room, actually good at understanding what we’d like, after we want it. I believe that is the largest high quality I can take away,” stated ahead Evan Rodrigues. “He is aware of when a group wants a joke, and he is aware of when a group wants a kick within the again finish. He is been unimaginable for us all yr and yeah, actually take pleasure in enjoying for him.”

What Maurice brings in expertise to the desk is a resume of 869 regular-season wins, which is fourth all-time amongst coaches. Solely Scotty Bowman, Joel Quenneville and Barry Trotz have gained extra.

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What Bowman, Quenneville and Trotz have that Maurice is lacking is a Stanley Cup ring — multiples within the instances of Bowman and Quenneville.

That is Maurice’s third look in a Cup Closing. He’s put within the time, come shut twice and now actually desires to be the coach celebrating his group’s sixteenth playoff victory.

“As you age, you get a unique perspective on life and what’s necessary and invaluable,” Maurice stated. “I must win one. No, it’s not going to vary the part of my life that’s not associated to hockey in any respect. However that’s the reality. That’s how I really feel. I’m 30 years into this factor. Wouldn’t thoughts profitable one.”

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