Just the second coach in the re-born history of this Jets 2.0 franchise, Paul Maurice was handed the reins back in January of 2014 when the team fired Claude Noel. During that season he was asked a few times about a potential contract but said he felt comfortable waiting until the Summer before he got around to working on any new deal. The team went 18-12-5 in the 35 games he coached although this wasn’t enough to get the team into the playoffs for the first time.
The new Jets bench boss was handed a four-year contract back on April 16th, 2014 which is obviously set to expire next year at this time. That 2014-15 season he coached the Jets to a 43-26-13 record which was good for 99 points (best ever in Thrashers/Jets history) and the first post-season appearance for the Jets 2.0 and just the second time ever for the combined Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise.
The two seasons since that quick playoff appearance (a four game sweep by the Ducks) and the Jets have finished on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff dance. While nobody expected this team to be a Stanley Cup contender this season there were some who felt that the team could have been a playoff team.
During the season there had been rumblings that the Jets wanted to ink Maurice to a contract extension although this was put on hold by the Jets bench boss according to former NHLer turned analyst Nik Kypreos of Sportsnet who indicated at the beginning of March that:
“I think Paul Maurice didn’t want to have all of a sudden a contract negotiation go on while he’s trying to fix a few things,” Kypreos said Saturday on the Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “I got to give him a lot of credit here because I know a lot of coaches who would have raced to sign on the dotted line with a team that is struggling at times like the Winnipeg Jets. I think it speaks to his character somewhat. We believe [an extension] will happen in the summer.”
With the season over talk began to focus on the contract status of the Jets coach. Would he be as effective a coach with a lame duck contact if he goes into next year sans extension? When asked during the end of season exit interviews if it was “safe to say you’d prefer to get an extension on his contract done this Summer” Maurice indicated “No, I don’t think so. I think its safe to say that I’m going to do with it whatever Kevin and Mark want me to do with it. If they are comfortable (with me) going into my last year, I’m fine with that. If they’d like me to sign an extension, then I’m fine with that too.”
When Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was asked about his head coach and a possible contract extension he opened with “Paul Maurice is the coach of this hockey team. What, where, how we go to the next steps, we’ll have discussions as we go. For me, Paul’s got my full support.”
While some may see that as less than a ringing endorsements for a new contract the next part of the GM’s comment would seem to indicate that the coach has fulfilled requests he has received from the brass (i.e. playing the kids) “I think it really goes to what we’ve asked Paul to do over his period of time here and, again, this hasn’t been something that we’ve knee-jerked and said ‘Ok we’re gonna go in this direction now or We’re gonna change and go in this direction’. Really, when Paul and I talked when he took over the team, we talked about the steps that were going to be necessary in order to build this franchise and continue to push it in the direction that we wanted. It was really at that point in time his enthusiasm and his willingness, and I say willingness for a veteran coach, to take on that task and understand that it wasn’t going to be smooth”
The GM ended his statement (with respect to this question) on his coach by saying “Paul’s coached for the best interests of this team and the best interests of the future of this team as we’ve asked him”.
Will the Jets bench boss be handed another new contract? Stay tuned to illegalcurve.com to find out.