By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
Kevin Cheveldayoff can put a tick beside the the top name on his summer priority list after locking up Paul Maurice on a four-year deal on Wednesday.
Maurice, 47, joined the Winnipeg Jets on January 12, 2014 and accumulated an 18-12-5 record in 35 games. As a result, he has earned a career NHL coaching record of 478-469-172 after 1119 games between the Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets.
“Extremely excited,” said Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff of the four-year deal. “We are extremely proud and looking forward to the future with Paul.”
Maurice won his 400th career NHL game when the Hurricanes defeated the Buffalo Sabres in overtime on Feb. 11, 2010, and on Nov. 28, 2010, he became the 19th coach, and the youngest in history, to coach 1,000 NHL games. In his first head coaching stint with the Hurricanes, Maurice guided Carolina to the 2002 Eastern Conference title and two Southeast Division crowns as well as four consecutive winning seasons from 1998-2002. On March 16, 2010, he became just the 10th coach in NHL history to spend more than 800 games behind the bench for one franchise.
“Quite honestly, it really didn’t take that long,” said Chevy regarding the decision between both parties to come to an agreement. “It’s a real pleasure to sit there and have discussions about the future and to see his excitement with respect to what we have here today.”
Prior to re-joining the Hurricanes, the Sault Ste. Marie, ON native collected a record of 76-66-22 during two full seasons as Head Coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2006-08. Maurice earned a career-high in wins with Toronto during the 2006-07 season, leading the Maple Leafs to 40 victories, and recording his 300th NHL victory on March 6, 2007.
“I knew of him from before, but until you get the opportunity to work with someone you don’t truly get a sense of what they bring to the table on a day-to-day basis,” Cheveldayoff said. “He is an impressive hockey coach and he is a very impressive person as well and he has really found a way to get to know everybody, to get to know people.”
Prior to moving to the NHL level during the summer of 1995 as an Assistant Coach with the Whalers, Maurice spent two seasons as Head Coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Detroit Jr. Red Wings. While in Detroit, he compiled a regular-season record of 86-38-8 and led the team to the 1995 OHL Championship and an appearance in the Memorial Cup in Kamloops, B.C. That season, he finished second in voting to Guelph’s Craig Hartsburg for the Matt Leyden Trophy, which is annually awarded to the OHL’s Coach of the Year.
“The players are extremely excited to play for Paul Maurice,” Cheveldayoff said. “He made a real tremendous impact form the moment he walked in and we are just scratching the surface on the impact he can make on this franchise moving forward.”
— with files from the Winnipeg Jets