It was under different circumstances, but it wasn’t long ago that Paul Maurice was in the RBC Center coaching against his former team for the first time.
As coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 15, 2006, he won that game 4-3 en route to an overall 4-2-2 record against Carolina, even though his teams were often behind in the standings.
Now that he’s come full-circle and returned to the Hurricanes bench, he’ll be looking to carry that success over to tonight’s game and break a three-game losing streak in the process.
As for any extra motivation on his part, Maurice said it’s always nice to beat your old team, but it’s not the same as if he was a player.
“I remember a line from Jim Rutherford about five years ago,” recalled Maurice. “He said that nobody ever comes to the game, leans over in the stands and says ‘Oh look, he’s really coaching now.’
“It’s true when we came in here for the first time, and when your old team comes into your building for the firs time, sure there’s a little bit more excitement, but that’s a good thing.”
That was part of a very entertaining press conference between Maurice and his old friends in the Toronto media (I counted at least 15 reporters and camera operators), which you can hear in its entirety here. “Just breathe, guys,” was an oft-heard response from the Hurricanes coach.
Not that he had much of a chance to comment on his own team, but when asked about generating offense, Maurice echoed what he said after yesterday’s practice about being patient during offensive struggles and getting back to the systems work that was producing results prior to the 0-3 road trip.
“We were a real good team until about a week ago, and then we starting asking too much about what we needed to do to get our offense going,” he said. “In the four games we won in a row, our offense was good enough.
“I’d like to see our hockey team have the confidence that in the nights that we’re only going to get two or three, we’re still going to have an opportunity to win those games, and then let the games where you get four, five or six to come to you instead of making that the primary goal.”