Paul Maurice Makes a Surprising, But Graceful Resignation from the Winnipeg Jets

This NHL season has seen a ton of in-season firings from front office positions to head coaches and everything in between. The Blackhawks, themselves, went through a coaching and front office change this season and have benefited from both. But this is a first this season and a rare occurrence in the NHL and all of sports.

This morning, unexpectedly, Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice resigned from his position.

The Jets currently sit in fifth-place in the Central Division with a 13-10-5 record, good for 31 points in the standings and are just a point out of the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference. But for Maurice, who has been the head coach in Winnipeg since being hired during the 2013-14 season, this was his call on his terms. Not a “you can’t fire me, I quit” kind of situation.

After being the leading voice in the locker room for parts of nine seasons and amassing a 315-223-62 and five appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Winnipeg, Maurice admitted that he had gotten everything out of the Jets as head coach that he could. He recognized he no longer had answers to get the team “over the hump.”

This, again, is not something you see every day in sports. When a coach leaves a team, usually it’s because they were canned or they had a new, better opportunity present itself. For Maurice, this was a personal decision and a move made not in haste.

It’s an honest and graceful exit, albeit unexpected, even to his own players. Maurice has been coaching hockey since he was 20-years-old when his playing career ended in his Junior Hockey days. Since the 1987-88 season, Maurice has been an assistant coach with Windsor in the OHL, the Detroit Jr. Red Wings and later became their head coach before becoming an assistant coach with the Hartford Whalers in the 1995-96 season. Maurice would eventually become the head coach in Hartford at the age of 29 the next season and remain the head coach in Hartford/Carolina until he was fired during the 2003-04 season. He then again became an NHL head coach with the Maple Leafs in 2006 before rejoining the Hurricanes during the 2008-09 season, staying in Carolina until being fired during the 2011-12 season. He coached in the KHL for the 2012-13 season before coming back to the NHL with the Jets.

In total in his NHL coaching career, Maurice has been behind the bench for 1,684 games (including 92 Stanley Cup Playoff games) with an overall record of 775-680-99-130, a career .528 points-percentage. He also has a 41-51 record in the postseason, having led the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Final in 2002. Through his press conference following his decision today, you could see how much Maurice’s time as a coach had consumed his life and then how much the current state of the world with the COVID pandemic had taken a toll on him.

You have to commend Maurice for his honesty and ability to swallow a tough pill on his own, knowing he wasn’t the right person for the team any longer. Hopefully he can take some time to find life outside of hockey, which he spoke about in a Q&A with The Athletic recently. In his place in the interim will be Dave Lowry, Jets assistant coach and the father of Jets centerman Adam Lowry.

Lowry, a veteran of 1,084 NHL games in his playing career, has been an NHL assistant coach on three separate occasions with the Calgary Flames from 2009-2012, the LA Kings from 2017-19, and the Winnipeg Jets last season and this season. This will be his first head coaching experience in the NHL.

The Jets are playing at home tonight against the Washington Capitals. So no time to waste for Lowry.

written by

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.

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