May 12, 2006
Catch Paul Maurice 1 on 1 with Brian Duff exclusively on Leafs TV Friday at 6:00 p.m.
(TORONTO) -- Over the course of the 2005-06 AHL season, Paul Maurice had the opportunity to watch 12 of his Marlies players with pride, as they got the call down the street to the NHL. Sometime earlier this week, it was Maurice's turn to get that magic phone call and truly it couldn't have happened to a better guy.
|Paul Maurice has a laugh at his press conference on Friday. |
(Graig Abel Photography)
After leading the Marlies to a 41 win season, and more importantly preparing six rookies for their NHL debuts, Maurice is heading back to the NHL to step behind the bench of the team he grew up watching.
If ever there was a time for Leafs fans to gather it's now, because they soon will discover it's the passion of Paul Maurice that will unite them all.
A lot has been made of the strong character and fun personality that Maurice brings to the rink everyday, but what exactly is it that fans can expect from the new bench boss of the Maple Leafs?
For starters, you'll get a hard worker who demands the same from his players. There was a great mutual respect with the Marlies and their coach this season, and that got things off on the right foot for everyone.
Maurice expects nothing but the best from his players, and demands hard work day in and day out. He also rewards strong work ethic with opportunity. For example, see players like Kris Newbury, John Mitchell and Martin Sagat.
Maurice is also known as a great teacher. His ability to work with young players and assist in their development has been well documented all season.
The 12 players who got the call this year were well prepared for the experience and put in some great and at times, lengthy performances. See Ian White, Jay Harrison, Brendan Bell, Ben Ondrus, Staffan Kronwall etc. They were all quick to point to their coach as a big reason they were ready to go.
Above all other skills and talents Maurice posses, his strongest might be his ability to communicate. From the media to the players, he can be described as a straight shooting, strong conversationalist. A big reason that Marlies players, who returned from their respective stints in the NHL, avoided the common letdown when being returned to the minors, had to do with the conversations Maurice had with every player when they got back to Ricoh Coliseum. No player ever could say they didn't know where they stood after holding a conversation with coach Maurice.
With Toronto being the hockey hot bed it is and the media capital of Canada, there is no shortage of pressure for a coach who is on the hot seat all the time. This is an area I can assure you Maurice will handle with style and ease.
He's already shown how to do it with the Marlies, and the transition to the Leafs won't be a difficult one. It all goes back to his communication skills and of course respect.
Maurice has respect for the media. He spent some time working on their side and knows why questions are asked. He understands that both sides have a job to do and that's what makes him so comfortable with the media. From his quick one-liners to a witty sense of humour, Maurice is not afraid to be personable because that's just the way he is, and he's doing a part of his job. Same way all the scribes and reporters are. So he's willing to give the time and answer because he knows they must ask. It's that case of mutual respect again.
After a full season and round of playoffs working with Maurice, I can tell you he was the utmost professional at all times. From all the highs and lows, seeing players succeed in the NHL, winning streaks and making the postseason, to losing streaks, fighting injuries and battling in a tough playoff series.
Maurice was out there every day, willing to openly speak and maybe even share a good story. You never could hold anything but respect for him, because that's the way he held you. It was a great pleasure to have the chats and interviews with him on a regular game day basis.
The opening of training camp is months away and there is plenty of work to be done, and no doubt Maurice will get to work shortly. But for a couple of days, you can't help but think the ol' kid from the Soo will take a little time to relish his new position with family and friends, and good for him. It's not every day you are named head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Congratulations to Paul Maurice and best of luck in his new endeavor.
Of course, his first order of business, move offices. Do you think it'll be the streetcar or taxi ride to the NHL?