Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice enjoyed the conversations he had with Ralph Krueger when they both worked for the Carolina Hurricanes.
They'll have a chance to renew those talks when they work together at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Maurice was named an assistant coach on Krueger's staff for Team Europe at the event, which will be held Sept. 17-Oct. 1 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
"Very excited to work with Ralph," Maurice said from Dallas, where the Jets play at the Dallas Stars on Thursday. "He's a real interesting guy. He's been around hockey for an awfully long time but done a tremendous amount of work in leadership and building organizations and motivating them. So it'll be a great opportunity. A bunch of players I've never worked with before and a great challenge."
Maurice and Krueger got to know each other when Krueger, who was coaching Switzerland's national team, did European scouting and player recruitment work for the Hurricanes while Maurice was Hurricanes coach.
"We weren't at the business end of the draft table and we'd spend 10 hours talking hockey and hit it off," Maurice said. "I liked the way his Edmonton Oilers [Krueger coached the Oilers in 2012-13] played with what he had there. I thought he did a fantastic job in Edmonton, and his teams were always competitive in international competition with a whole lot less to offer.
They just didn't have the depth but he found a way to get them to get on one page and that's the challenge for a team like Europe; different countries, different styles of play, perhaps players who don’t have a natural chemistry because they played together at different tournaments. And he's good at this."
Team Europe will consist of players from outside the four countries that will send teams to the tournament (Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic). What makes Maurice a good fit for this team is his European coaching experience. He spent the 2012-13 season with Magnitogorsk in the Kontinental Hockey League.
"I think it has helped in understanding the difference in the styles of game and the culture in the game and how it's perceived, how it's played," Maurice said. "It is markedly different than what we see over here in systems of the game [and] the attitude of the game. So I have a far better feeling for the players that come over, the adjustments that they need to make to be successful in the NHL."
Maurice said he's also excited at the chance to coach against Canada at Air Canada Centre. He has a special connection to the building, having coached the Toronto Maple Leafs for two seasons (2006-08).
"It's going to be fantastic in that you’re going to see all the best Canadians on one team and they'll be well-prepared and very confident in their home building," he said. "I spent a big bulk of my coaching career with an underdog team so we'll certainly fit that bill when that game comes."
Team Europe will be in Group A, along with Team Canada, Team Czech Republic and Team USA. Group B will be Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden and Team North America, which consists of players from the United States and Canada who are age 23 or younger as of Oct. 1, 2016.