MONTREAL | Of the 32 head coaches in the NHL, Paul Maurice is one of the most generous and interesting to the media. The 55-year-old has a knack for putting his sport in simple but clear and concise terms.
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Hours before another important game for the Panthers, a team desperate to climb to the top of the Eastern Conference, Maurice writes that he always writes the names of the opposing team on a board that he puts in the dressing room, but also theirs from injured players.
“I’m not content with specifying the starting XI, I also want to know who won’t play,” said the Panthers head coach. You never know what can happen to a team. When the injured return, there are players who could no longer have a place in this team and are going through waivers. You always have one eye open. »
On the small chalkboard in the opposing team’s tiny dressing room at the Bell Center, Maurice had written a lineup of 11 attackers and seven defenders for the Canadiens. We also saw the many absences with Jake Evans, Juraj Slafkovsky, Sean Monahan, Joel Armia, Jonathan Drouin, Jake Allen and even Paul Byron not having played this season.
The Panthers had also made a typo in Xhekaj’s last name. For Xhehaj there were two hours on the blackboard. But in fairly near future we will not make any more mistakes with number 72 name.
Despite winning the Presidents’ Trophy (awarded to the team leading the overall standings), Bill Zito fired Andrew Brunette after the team was eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the playoffs, to be replaced by an experienced man replace Mauritius.
“Last year was last year,” said captain Aleksander Barkov. It is finished. We have several new faces in the team, but also within the organization. There’s a new system, a new head coach. There’s a lot that’s new. We want to build a new chapter. But it takes time to adapt. I think we’ve been playing a lot better lately. »
Zito, the Panthers general manager, sacrificed his first-round pick for the 2023 draft by selling him to the Canadiens in a deal for defenseman Ben Chiarot last year.
The Panthers did not trademark this pick commercially. So CH could end up with a very good pick at the 2023 auction if the Florida team ever fails to make the playoffs. In a dream scenario for Kent Hughes but disastrous for Zito, the Habs could win the lottery by choosing the Panthers.
A white lie
In his first season behind the Panthers bench, Maurice now has the duty of getting his team back into the playoff race. When asked if he felt more pressure because his team didn’t have their first-round pick, the likeable coach probably played it up.
“You just informed me that we don’t have a first round election in 2023,” he replied. It’s not my responsibility. But I’ve heard before that the value of a first-round pick after the 23rd is no higher than many other picks. »
“A first-round pick is still a great thing for an organization, but also for the fans. There are young talents who can quickly change the face of a team. But they are rare. You often have to wait four years for results with a first-round pick. The trainers therefore do not devote too much energy to her. In a city like Montreal, you can pull out scout reports for the top 15 picks in the next draft. »