Paul Maurice said he has plenty of energy and is rarin’ to go during his introductory press conference with the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Maurice, 55, sang a different tune when he stepped down as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 17, saying the team needed a new voice. He also admitted he was uncertain if he’d ever coach again, however that notion was quickly dismissed following an interview with Panthers general manager Bill Zito.
“I don’t know how much time you’ve spent with Bill, but he can jack you up about hockey in about 15 minutes, right?” Maurice said. “So I’m in a lather an hour into the meeting and ready to go. And that’s what drives me. And that’s what I love, right? You want to (work with) really smart, passionate people that want to put on not just a great game, but a great program for the community.
“It’s almost as hard to describe as that word ‘fit.’ But I think a perspective from the outside sometimes helps, somebody who’s got maybe a bit of a historical perspective of the league and has seen teams very similar to this in the situation that they’re at. … And I think I can teach well. I do think that I can get in front of a room and explain ideas and have players understand them and certainly reach out to the players who don’t. Certainly bring an emotional intensity in our daily work and excitement. Coming to work, we’ll be a heavily caffeinated group in the morning.”
Maurice replaces interim head coach and Jack Adams Award finalist Andrew Brunette. He guided Florida after taking over for Joel Quenneville, who resigned on Oct. 28.
The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers set franchise records for wins (58) and points (122) this past season.
“We really, really want to take the next step,” Zito said. “We have to keep going, we have to keep going. And part of that is looking at the horizon. And we need to prepare, and we need to be ready. And we have to anticipate, where are we headed right now? I think that’s the biggest takeaway for us.
“And so that’s where I really believe that Paul, is, as you can tell, the special enthusiasm, the special experience in hockey that we’re going to have some challenges this year. And I think that this is a great fit for us to move forward and take them on.”
Maurice owns a 775-681-130 record with 99 ties while serving as the head coach of the Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Jets.