By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
If you ask the Winnipeg Jets’ captain Andrew Ladd he will tell you that two good people lost their jobs today. He will also tell you it wasn’t their fault.
Kevin Cheveldayoff made his first major change on Sunday morning, firing head coach Claude Noel and one of Noel’s assistants, Perry Pearn. Former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach, Paul Maurice, was hired to take Noel’s place.
“I think it always comes as a shock, I don’t think anyone expected it this morning,” said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. “Two good people lose their jobs and ultimately it came down to the performance of all the guys in here.
“Hopefully this brings some energy to this group and desperation that we need right now.”
Ladd said that he and his teammates understand that the loss of Noel and Pearn is apart of the nature of the business.
“We understand that in this business, that if you are not performing up to standards, something is going to happen,” he said.
Ladd wasn’t the only one blaming the firings on the poor play from the team.
“Entirely responsible,” said Blake Wheeler. “Ultimately, we are the ones on the ice not getting the job done so I think we are all responsible, as players we need to look at ourselves. This is an indication of the product that we are putting on the ice right now.
“The way that we have been going, some sort of change has probably been inevitable. Unfortunately, this is going to have to be a wakeup call for our team. I don’t want to say that anything was needed because those are two good guys who lost their jobs today. It is tough, but the way things were going, it wasn’t going.
“If this is what it takes to get us pointed in the right direction then I guess that is what needed to happen.”
Veteran forward Olli Jokinen has seen a few coaches come and go in his NHL tenure and was quite candid following the news of Noel’s departure. Jokinen, who has been critical of the teams focus over the course of the season, focused on the player’s responsibility on the ice.
“At the end of the day you got to ask yourself, ‘are you giving your best chance to play your best ever single night?’” said Jokinen. “That is the bottom line, if it is not enough you lose. Lately, our focus hasn’t been there.”