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Maurice relishing opportunity with Jets

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- Things certainly have changed in the life of Paul Maurice over the past week.

After an inconsistent start to the season that saw the Winnipeg Jets slip to 12th in the Western Conference, Maurice was hired to replace coach Claude Noel on Sunday.

It's given Maurice a renewed appreciation for coaching.

"The one thing I've noticed in my non-coaching life, the day is really, really long," Maurice said. "You're at noon going, 'I've got nine more hours before I even have to watch a hockey game.' Here you're looking at your watch and saying, 'Where did the last 12 hours go?' But that's why it's awesome.

"That's a big part of me loving this. You're moving and you're going. It's great."

Maurice, 46, has more than 1,000 games of NHL coaching experience with the Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. He led the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Final in 2002 and to the Eastern Conference Final in 2009 in his second go-round with the organization. He spent the 2012-13 season coaching Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League.

But until he took the job with the Jets, Maurice had been working as a TV analyst for TSN and the NHL Network. He joked that not everything at his job has changed.

"I still wear a suit on TV," he said. "It's just a different desk."

Maurice's new job isn't an easy one, though. He's inherited a team that was 19-23-5 and has missed the playoffs in each of the two seasons since moving to Winnipeg from Atlanta. It's his job to get the Jets back on track.

He took the first steps in his debut, a 5-1 win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday. He'll look for a similar result Thursday when Winnipeg visits the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.

A few practices between his first two games certainly were helpful, Maurice said, but he's not yet satisfied.

"[The players] are trying to do what we've asked them to do," he said. "I think there's more. I think there's another level there but it's not right now because they don't have the capacity to do it. We're just trying to expand that and they'll get better, they'll get faster. There's some trust that has to be built between the coach and the team.

"We’re still working through that. I'm as reasonably comfortable as a coach is on game day after he's been with his team for two practices, so…"

One player he won't have Thursday is forward Evander Kane, who the Jets placed on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 7. During a game that night against the Tampa Bay Lightning Kane injured his hand and has not played since. The team called up forward Carl Klingberg from the American Hockey League to replace him on the roster.

Captain Andrew Ladd said the team is becoming more comfortable with its new coach.

"He's come in and given us a big jolt in practice and in games," Ladd said. "The last couple days we've been at a new level, I think. We're starting to implement a little more of his systems and the way he wants to play defensively and on special teams and stuff like that. There will be a little bit of an adjustment but he's pretty clear about what he wants.

"As a player that's easy to go with."

Here are the projected lineups when the Jets take on the Flames on Thursday:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik

Chris Thorburn - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Devin Setoguchi - Olli Jokinen - Dustin Byfuglien

James Wright - Eric O'Dell - Anthony Peluso

Zach Bogosian - Tobias Enstrom

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Adam Pardy - Keaton Ellerby

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Scratched: Eric Tangradi, Carl Klingberg

Injured: Evander Kane (hand), Jim Slater (hernia), Matt Halischuk (forearm), Paul Postma (blood clot), Grant Clitsome (upper body)


Jiri Hudler - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak

Paul Byron - Sean Monahan - Joe Colborne

Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - TJ Galiardi

Kevin Westgarth - Ben Street - Brian McGrattan

TJ Brodie - Mark Giordano

Chris Butler - Ladislav Smid

Dennis Wideman - Shane O'Brien

Reto Berra

Karri Ramo

Scratched: Derek Smith

Injured: Mike Cammalleri (concussion), David Jones (eye), Kris Russell (MCL sprain), Curtis Glencross (high ankle sprain), Blair Jones (meniscal tear)

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