The average daily temperature on a typical January day in Winnipeg is -19 degrees celsius. On that same day in Florida? Only a 45-degree celsius swing up the mercury to +24.
Former Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice has found a new home, and his transition may be one that will benefit his tan, but not his air conditioning bill.
On Wednesday morning, it was announced that Maurice will be packing his bags for Sunrise, Florida, where he will move into the head coach office at FLA Live Arena.
“At the completion of our season, we began an in-depth examination of all aspects of our team,” said Panthers’ general manager Bill Zito. “After taking the appropriate amount of time for analysis, we determined that we needed the perfect fit to continue with the growth of our players and stay on the path for our franchise goals. Paul’s experience and intellect were just what we were looking for and we are thrilled for him to step into the role of head coach.”
Last season, Maurice stepped down as head coach of the Jets shortly into the season. He called it a parting of ways after losing his love for the game during the COVID pandemic.
“If you lose some of that passion for the game, the love of the game, you can still be good, but you can’t be as good as you could be or you should be, and that’s how I feel I am,” Maurice said back in December. “And if you would allow me some arrogance, I would say I’m better positioned than anyone to know that they need a new voice. They haven’t quit on me, they’re a good bunch of men and I’m cheering for them, I am.”
His time away from the game has clearly given him a fresh outlook, and landing a job with the Panthers will be step back into the limelight for a man who done nothing but coach at the highest of levels since his late-twenties.
Maurice sits seventh all-time with 775 NHL regular season victories, while having appeared in the third-most games ever, behind just the great Scotty Bowman and Florida’s former bench boss Joel Quenneville.
With Quenneville stepping down from his role with the Panthers after allegations surfaced in his role with the Kyle Beach sexual assault case from Chicago in 2010, Florida turned to assistant coach Andrew Brunette to guide the team from late-October and on.
Brunette actually was not given an end date on his new coaching gig and called it himself, a “day-to-day” job. He only led the team to its best record ever, finished atop its division and won the Presidents’ Trophy in the process. Not too shabby for a first-time bench boss.
Brunette actually earned a spot as one of the top-three coaches in the running for the Jack Adams Award, finishing as a finalist to Calgary’s Darryl Sutter.
But come June, he wasn’t extended and just days later, the announcement came that Maurice would take the helm in Florida. According to the experts, Brunette would be a welcomed addition to Maurice’s staff – likely comprised of some long-term Winnipeg assistants – but why would he have any interest in returning in a lesser capacity following the season he had?
With Maurice having all but officially accepted the role in Florida, the trade rumours will certainly begin flowing as players such as Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele will undoubtedly hear their names in the warm, swirling, salty winds of south Florida.