Off to a slow start, completing fewer than 55%

  • When the Carolina Hurricanes went into the 2002 playoffs, they didnt necessarily think they were Stanley Cup contenders. Derek Anderson Youth Jersey . Then Paul Maurice worked his magic behind the bench. "We could feel it within our room, we could feel it on our bench, we could feel it on our plane" former Carolina goaltender Kevin Weekes said. "And we knew that we were a prepared group, we knew that we were a committed group, we knew we were a group that believed, and Coach Maurice went a long way in creating that atmosphere." Maurice got that group to the Cup final as part of an impressive tenure in Carolina. Almost 12 years after that run, Maurice on Sunday replaced Claude Noel as coach of the Winnipeg Jets, and a handful of his former Hurricanes players consider it a good fit based on what he did for them. "I think hes a very underrated coach," said Hall of Famer and former Carolina captain Ron Francis, who also worked as an assistant under Maurice. "Hes a very bright guy, hes good at assessing the talent he has and then structuring the system that he believes will get the most out of the lineup that he has on a game-in, game-out basis." Maurice has his fair share of issues to deal with to fix what ails the Jets, who are 10 points out of the Western Conferences final playoff spot after losing five in a row. "I would imagine the strategy for him, hed be a little bit of a detective going in there," said Jeff ONeill who played for Maurice in Carolina and Toronto. "Hes going to find out what the problems are and hes going to address the issues. And thats probably the first order of business." Its not exactly new business, either. When Maurice became Whalers coach early in the 1995-96 season, he inherited a Hartford team that missed the playoffs in each of the past three years. The Jets missed the playoffs in their first two seasons in Winnipeg and havent made it since 2006-07 as the Atlanta Thrashers. At least its a familiar challenge for Maurice. "It almost works in his favour that this is not a new situation for him," said former defenceman Aaron Ward. "Hes never really walked into a situation where hes had a cupboard full of unbelievable talent." Winnipeg doesnt have unbelievable talent, but theres a core in place beginning with captain Andrew Ladd, U.S. Olympian Blake Wheeler, Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien. Those early Whalers teams were led by Geoff Sanderson, Andrew Cassels and Keith Primeau. Maurice didnt turn things around right away, but by the second season of the Hurricanes after the move to North Carolina, they were in the playoffs thanks to contributions from Primeau, Sami Kapanen, Francis and goaltender Arturs Irbe. The 2002 run to the Cup final was Maurices most memorable achievement, taking an unheralded group led by Francis and Rod BrindAmour to within three victories of knocking off the talent-rich Detroit Red Wings. Even today, Francis wondered what wouldve happened if Carolina didnt lost Game 3 in triple overtime. "I think he just had the guys believing that we were capable of doing it," said Francis, whos now vice president of hockey operations for the Hurricanes. "We kept everything sort of simple and the focus on the direction it needed to be kept on, and as a result you had a team that believes in itself, believes in each other and some may say overachieved, but not according to the guys in that locker room or the coaching staff. We certainly believed we belonged right to the end." Maurice isnt the same man he was when he got his first NHL head-coaching job at the age of 28 or even the same from 2002. Maurice has coached 1,084 games with the Whalers, Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs and isnt a fresh-faced youngster anymore. "Obviously he knows what works and what doesnt work now," ONeill said. "I think maybe when he was younger he thought he had to be a hard ass all the time for guys to kind of buy in and believe it, and then later on the message didnt have to be that because he was established, he had coached so many games." Maurice is 46 now, armed with experience from coaching Metallurg in Russias Kontinental Hockey League and doing some television analysis. Francis worked on Maurices staff in 2009-10 and 2010-11 and saw how he matured and changed over time. Francis has no doubt Maurice has adjusted with a changing league. "Hes very bright, hes a good student of the game and hes watching whats happening and how things are evolving," Francis said. "He incorporates that into his game plan and his systems. Theres no question he doesnt get stuck on one particular thing but more or less moves with the times." Times now are about youth, as Weekes pointed out the NHL has never been younger. Maurice will be charged with figuring out how to best use defenceman Jacob Trouba, centre Mark Scheifele and others in the pipeline in Winnipeg. Based on what Maurice did at the junior level, including winning the 1995 OHL title with the Detroit Jr. Red Wings, and how much he accomplished with the Hurricanes, his former players know where his strengths lie. Most notably, he can maximize the talent at his disposal. "Its one thing to coach somebody up, its another thing to just coach and its another thing to coach somebody down," Weekes said. "Paul Maurice is somebody that Ive seen, and one of the few that Ive seen as a head coach in my time, that coached you up." If the Jets hope to make up a substantial deficit to get back into contention this season or at least make strides for the future, itll be up to Maurice to coach up like he did in Carolina. That job starts with creating an identity for a team that has been lacking one. Those Hurricanes teams are a nice blue print. "I think its a team that works extremely hard," Francis said. "I think its a team that tries to be very solid in its own end and then try to get in on the forecheck as quickly and as aggressively as possible. Those are some of the trademarks that he really liked to incorporate into his team." Personal relationships also are a trademark of Maurices coaching. Weekes said Maurice knew how to treat players as players and as people, and Francis lauded his "open-door policy," which could benefit Ladd. "At any point as a captain, if I wanted to walk in and have a conversation with him, I felt comfortable doing that," Francis said. "We could talk about everything from my individual game to team concepts and systems or strengths and weaknesses and how to adjust things. And it was no different being a part of the coaching staff. He gave everybody a voice. Youre allowed to kind of say your piece and what you thought, and at the end of the day it was his job as head coach to make the final decision. But he certainly gave you that opportunity to express what you felt." Maurice certainly hasnt been perfect. During his 13 full seasons as an NHL head coach, his teams made the playoffs five times and missed eight. But Weekes, who was part of just one Maurice-led playoff team, praised him as "hands-down" the best coach he ever played for. "He set the right tone with the staff, certainly with all of our players, and for the most part youd have to say he put all of us in a position to succeed," Weekes said. "Everything was structured, our work ethic as a team was through the roof, and I think that really reflected our coaches, starting with Coach Maurice, just in terms of the preparation, the practice detail, the tempo -- us doing all the little things that it took the be successful." Mike Brown Youth Jersey . As both players sat on the sideline during the changeover before Federer was going to serve to try to force a fifth set, most of the nearly 15,000 spectators began chanting "Ro-ger! Ro-ger! Ro-ger!" Federer did extend the match. Ryan Kalil Youth Jersey . Marie rink in the Ice Cube Curling Center, as they moved Canada up to 3-2 in the round robin by beating Denmark by a score of 7-6.Each week, well take a look at some top performers from the CFL, with an eye to looking ahead to some matchups that could be favourable for TSN Fantasy Football, CFL Edition, presented by Joseph Abboud. Here are some of the best from Week 5 and players to watch for Week 6: TOP PERFORMERS Dan LeFevour, QB, Hamilton (21-for-30, 361 YDS, 1 TD passing, 109 YDS, 13 carries, 1 TD rushing vs. Ottawa) - Apparently Zach Collaros can take his time recovering from a big hit by Edmontons Odell Willis on July 4, as hes been placed on the six-game injured list. LeFevours monster game against Ottawa should leave the TiCats relatively comfortable with their QB situation in Collaros absence. LeFevour has completed 73.1% of his passes this year, and he can run, so he should be at least adequate as a fill-in while Collaros is out. C.J. Gable, RB, Hamilton (167 YDS, 1 TD, 9 touches vs. Ottawa) - Not a lot of opportunities for Gable against the Redblacks, but he sure made the most of it, averaging 18.6 yards every time he touched the ball. Sure, its against an expansion team, but the second-year back out of USC is providing plenty of reason for Hamilton to give him a bigger role in the offence going forward. Will Ford, RB, Saskatchewan (137 YDS, 3 TD, 20 touches vs. Toronto) - The third-year runner out of South Carolina State, who played for Winnipeg the past two seasons, had a career day against the Argos. He rushed for 156 yards in a game against Calgary last season, but three touchdowns made last weeks performance the most productive day of his relatively brief career. PLAYERS TO WATCCH IN WEEK 6 Darian Durant, QB, Saskatchewan - Off to a slow start, completing fewer than 55% of his passes (compared to a career mark of 61. Mike Brown Womens Jersey. 2%), Durant also has five touchdowns and five interceptions through his first four games in 2014. He didnt need to throw much in a rout of the Argos last week, but Durant gets a matchup against an Ottawa team that has the leagues worst pass defence. Seems like a good time for a breakout performance. Jock Sanders, RB, Calgary - As well as the B.C. Lions defence has played, ranking second in the league with 291.6 yards against per game, they are more susceptible against the run and Sanders contributed 93 yards on 17 touches against Edmonton last week. Sanders, who has mostly been a return specialist, with a total of eight carries in three previous seasons with the Stampeders, is the primary replacement for Jon Cornish while the reigning Most Outstanding Player is recovering from a concussion. Marcus Henry, WR, Ottawa - A big target, at 6-foot-5, Henry had a productive game (10 REC, 138 YDS, 1 TD at Hamilton) in a losing effort last week and while the Redblacks could have their troubles against Saskatchewan this week, the Riders defence has allowed 259.3 passing yards per game, ranking seventh in the league. Henry may not duplicate the best game of his career, but there is room for him to step into a bigger role for Ottawa moving forward. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys cheap jerseys cheap jerseys cheap nfl jerseys wholesale jerseys ' ' '