Yesterday after Winnipeg Jets finished up practice, head coach Paul Maurice used a little bit of his media availability to touch on the topic of his future with the Jets.
Paul Maurice essentially confirmed his current contract expires after this season, but isn’t worried about “lame-duck” status. "I'm not looking to be going anywhere. It will be kicking and screaming on the way out. That'll be how that transition happens."
— Mike McIntyre (@mikemcintyrewpg) December 17, 2019
The topic of Maurice’s status with the club has come up yet again after Sportsnet’s hockey insider Elliotte Friedman not only brought up Paul Maurice’s name during his weekly 31 Thoughts podcast, but linked it to a possible job with the new Seattle NHL team that will be taking to the ice for the 2021-22 season when host Jeff Marek asked about some timeline. Friedman was quick to point out though that it wasn’t him per say that was saying he was Seattle bound, just that he had heard some things…
Friedman: “I think team name is going to be some time in the new year. Affiliate is Palm Springs. They’re going to have Palm Springs. Team coach might not be [announced] for another year. I’ll tell you this, I’ve got some guys who think it’s going to be Paul Maurice, eh?
Marek: “Oh, you do, do you?”
Friedman: “Not me, but I’ve got some guys who think its going to be Paul Maurice.”
The Seattle talk and Maurice speculation happens at about the 1:24:00 mark of the podcast if you just want to skip to that, although the entire podcast is always a good listen.
This isn’t the first time Friedman has talked about Paul Maurice’s contract status with the Jets. Back in late October, Elliotte mentioned it in passing that this was the final year of his contract that was signed back in 2017.
Maurice was hired by the Jets back on January 12, 2014 as he replaced Claude Noel behind the bench and is currently the second longest active tenured coach in the NHL right now behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper. Paul’s record with the Jets is currently 255-173-50 and he’s helped lead the team to three playoff appearances over the last five seasons.
Coaches who hang around a team for more than a few years are more of the exception than the rule in the NHL. Of the 30 teams in the league (excluding Vegas because this is only their second year in existence) only 7 teams have had their current head coach for three or more seasons.
Back in 2017, Maurice (and General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff) were signed to multi-year contract extensions before the season had begun which only makes Maurice’s current status even more intriguing. Are the Jets taking more of a “wait and see” approach with Paul Maurice this time around? If the Jets fall short of a playoff spot, or if they make the playoffs but only last one round, would Cheveldayoff and Mark Chipman be ready to move on and bring in a new coach to lead the team?
Popular opinion would suggest that this situation is being mostly controlled by team management, but we should also consider Paul Maurice’s role in this and what his own intentions may be.
He has stated that he loves Winnipeg and wants to be with the club for as long as they’ll have him and there is little doubt he genuinely feels that way about the city and the team, but being the head coach of an NHL club is a job and like anyone else with family and bills job security is crucial. Money may not be that big a factor in all of this, but the longer he next contract is signed for, the better.
Could it be that he would like a three or even a four season deal this next time around? It doesn’t seem likely that the Jets would commit to that short of Maurice leading the team to the Stanley Cup this season. What does seem likely though is that Maurice could find a multi-year deal going beyond just a couple of seasons with a brand new NHL club in Seattle.
Back in April of 2017, the Vegas Golden Knights hired Gerard Gallant to a four year deal, so it’s not unreasonable to think that the Seattle NHL’ers could do the same for whomever they bring in as their first head coach.
Jets fans should expect question marks to surround the head coaching position for the entire season as it doesn’t seem like anything will be finalized until the final horn is sounded on the 2019-20 season. Just what happens with Maurice may very well depend on when that happens be it in early-April or sometime in June.