fla maurice with cup

SUNRISE, Fla. – Paul Maurice had been waiting to get his hands on the Stanley Cup for a long time, so when it finally came to him, the Florida Panthers coach had something he needed to say.

“I had a little conversation with it before I lifted it,” Maurice said after the Panthers' 2-1 championship-clinching victory against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday. “Because I’ve been chasing it for a while, and I didn’t think it was very kind of it to run so hard. And then I just wanted to feel it. And then the stuff I said after was all profanity.

“But for me, when I opened my eyes, the entire team’s there smiling at me.”

The Panthers players understood well what the moment meant to Maurice. He’d been trying to win the Cup since becoming the second-youngest coach in NHL history when he took over the Hartford Whalers in 1995 at age 28.

Now 57, the native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, has coached in 1,985 NHL games -- 1,848 in the regular season and 137 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- which is the most by a coach in NHL history before winning the Cup.

Only Scotty Bowman has coached in more regular-season games with 2,141. Bowman has won the Stanley Cup an NHL-record nine times. Now, Maurice has his first championship.

“He deserves it,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. “He’s done an unbelievable job with us making us ready for this and we finally did it.”

SCF, Gm7: Oilers @ Panthers Recap

This was Maurice’s third Cup Final appearance. His first came with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2002, when they lost to Bowman’s Red Wings in five games. The second was last season with the Panthers, who also lost in five games to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Maurice admitted before the Cup Final began that he “needed” to win the Cup once. He wasn’t sure about that after finally doing it.

“I’m not going through this great sense of personal satisfaction,” he said. “I’m not. And if I could do it over again, I feel I needed one for the outside. I sure as hell wanted one for the inside. But it’s not mine. I get a piece of it, just a piece of it. So, I don’t feel like I won a Stanley Cup.

“I feel like I got a piece of it and that’s way better because if you’ve got a whole Stanley Cup, nobody’s coming to your house. You’re by yourself. I get a little piece of it and it’s good.”

All the Panthers players, including their extras that put on their full uniforms and joined the celebration after the final horn, got to lift the Cup before Maurice. Spencer Knight, the team’s third goalie, skated it over to Maurice while he was in the middle of a television interview.

“I guess I ended up having it last and I knew for him it was a big deal, so to pass it along to him, he deserves it,” Knight said. “Great coach, great person.”

Maurice celebrates with the Stanley Cup during interview

After Maurice took hold of it, he paused for a moment before lifting it over his head.

“I wanted to feel it,” he said. “Because I’ll forget a lot of things: who you were looking at, what you were talking about. I just wanted to feel it. I’d seen that picture a million times. One of my favorite ones was actually watching Roddy Brind’Amour because I knew his long career, never missed a workout, grinded so hard and it was the Oilers and it was Carolina, my old team, and Jim Rutherford (in 2006). And then they keep showing that commercial on NHL.com. 

"They’ve got the guys with the Stanley Cup and you’re going, ‘What the hell does that feel like?’ So I closed my eyes because I wanted to feel it.”

When Maurice went to lift the Cup over his head, he struggled with it briefly.

“It was heavier than I thought it was going to be, but I haven’t been to gym in a long time,” he said. “So, there was a slight moment when I’m hanging on going, ‘Am I going to be able to get this thing over my shoulders?’”

Looking at the Cup and the names on it, Maurice realized that his name would soon be on there too, along with the rest of the Panthers.

“It’s my dad’s name,” he said, referring to his father, Denis Maurice. “That means something. My dad grew up in Montreal without a dad. And then he moved to Detroit area, Windsor, Detroit, so all his heroes are Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings. And I know Jean Beliveau’s name and Maurice Richard’s name from hearing it since I was five. That’s what’s cool. My dad’s name is on the Stanley Cup with all of his heroes. That’s cool.”

Related Content