By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
Paul Maurice wants the Winnipeg Jets to be a patient, confident hockey club. No small task here given the state of this team, but a challenge Maurice whole-heartedly embraces.
Paul Maurice walked off of a plane last night and into the media limelight this morning. Speaking from Claude Noel’s former perch, Maurice preached an honest message about being patient, being confident and outlined the challenges ahead for the Jets
“I think there is a time for patience and a time for action,” said Maurice. “We need to become a more patient hockey club, but that has nothing to do with passivity. We need to be very aggressive, but patient in the understand and confidence that we will play this way, we will play one way, regardless of the adversity and have the confidence that we will have success doing it.”
Maurice was honest in his review of his inheritance on Monday morning, giving his synopsis of what he likes and some of the challenges his newfound job presents him.
“I like the speed and I like the youth, more than anything else,” said Maurice. “This is a big team that can move and a young team so there is room to grow.”
“My concerns are, and you should never introduce a negative, but I will get to this now – getting them to play a game that has a defensive component in it. For those players that have been here a long time, they haven’t done it. It is the same questions, it is the same things they need to get better at.
“So getting them to do that in short order, which is what we need to do, that is the challenge here. And when we do that, the confidence comes back. That is not a confident group out there.”
Maurice talked about two goals that he has for this team over the next 35 games.
“There are two goals for this hockey team,” stated Maurice. “One is the playoffs, but it is not the primary goal, that will get taken care of. There is not a lot of meat on the bone, not a lot of time on the clock, those are the facts.
“The most important goal is to get on the path of creating a foundation of a game that they understand and that they have faith in playing. When some adversity happens on the ice, when you go through a stretch like you are going through right now, you have a understanding of a game that you are supposed to play.
“That is our No. 1 goal. Building confidence in a game they understand, that they can play, and I believe they can with what we are talking about.”
Maurice will take his time evaluating and getting to know his players. He says before they show it on the ice, he needs to show it and teach them the right way.
“Before you can get on a player about where he is supposed to be you have to show him where he is supposed to be,” said Maurice. “You have to get to know some of these players, and motivation is different for each player, but at the end of the day for this group, with what they are going through, they just want to get out of there. They want this to go away.”
If Jets fans are looking for something miraculous tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes, they will be disappointed according to Maurice.
“I am going to be completely honest with you…tonight, your guess is as good as mine,” Maurice said. “I have been here for four hours, so let’s not think that this world is going to change by my grace alone.”