Panthers hire ex-Jets head coach Paul Maurice to replace Brunette

Paul Maurice is the new coach of the Florida Panthers, who on Wednesday agreed to take over a club that has come through a season in which it had the best record in the NHL and rewrote the franchise’s record book.

Maurice, 55, will be unveiled Thursday morning, the Panthers said.

Maurice will replace Panthers caretaker manager Andrew Brunette, who could remain with the organization if he chooses to do so.

Brunette took over early last season following the retirement of Joel Quenneville, who was forced to step down after it was revealed how Chicago abuse allegations mauled a player during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. Quenneville was coaching Chicago at the time.

TSN first reported that the Panthers and Maurice would finalize an agreement.

Panthers general manager Bill Zito said in a statement released by the team that Maurice’s hiring came after “a thorough review of all aspects of our team.”

“After taking the appropriate amount of time to analyze, we realized that we needed the perfect cast to continue our player growth and stay on track toward our franchise goals,” said Zito. “Paul’s experience and intellect was exactly what we were looking for and we are delighted that he is taking on the role of head coach.”

The Panthers will become the fourth franchise Maurice coaches. He started in Hartford in 1995, two seasons before the franchise moved to Carolina. He coached Toronto for two seasons before returning to Carolina, and then spent nearly nine years coaching in Winnipeg before retiring there in December.

“I’ve been pushing here as long and as hard as I can. I love these guys. They need a new voice and I know it,” Maurice said as he left Winnipeg.

Now, six months after that decision, Maurice is also getting a fresh start with a team that believes it is a Stanley Cup contender.

CLOCK | Maurice on his decision to resign:

“It’s the right time and I know it”: Jets coach Paul Maurice resigns

Paul Maurice leaves the Winnipeg Jets. He has just stepped down as head coach, a job he has held since 2014. The Jets have struggled this season and Maurice says he’s considered leaving. He says going to the rink has become an ordeal and he thinks the team deserves better.

Florida won the Presidents’ Trophy that season and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, winning a postseason series for the first time since 1996. Brunette was a finalist for Coach of the Year in his first stint as a head coach at the NHL level, finishing second to Calgary’s Darryl Sutter for the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year.

That wasn’t enough to secure him the job in the long term, nor was the support of Panthers players, including captain Aleksander Barkov, among others.

Instead, the Panthers are turning to Maurice — who is fourth on the NHL’s all-time coached list with 1,684 and seventh on the NHL’s all-time win list with 775, but has never led a team to the Stanley Cup. He got Carolina into the title series in 2002, but the Hurricanes lost to the Detroit Red Wings in five games.

Florida has ranked second in the NHL in wins (130) and standings per game (1.35) for the past three combined seasons — only behind Colorado on both lists. The Avalanche have 137 wins and an average of 1.41 league points per game during this period.

The Panthers also set team records in numerous categories this season, including wins (58) and goals (340). Jonathan Huberdeau became the first Panthers player with a 100-point season, the team won 34-7-0 at home, started the year with eight straight wins and added a 13-game winning streak later in the season.

Florida was swept away by Tampa Bay in the second round, and a month later Maurice has now been brought on board to see where he can take the Panthers next season and beyond.

Leave a Comment