Could Canucks Court Maurice?
It’s no secret John Tortorella is under a little pressure in Vancouver right now.
The former Tampa Bay and New York Coach seems to be many people’s favourite to be the next coach to get the axe, as the Canuck’s have stumbled through the season, lurching from one crisis to the next.
Chris James and I talked about ‘Torts’ future on this weeks podcast; and again the question came up – if he was fired, who would replace Tortorella?
Lets assume for a moment Vancouver do make a coaching change this summer; given how things have gone in Winnipeg, should the Canucks be looking at Paul Maurice?
The Jets had just 14 wins when Claude Noel was fired, signifying the first serious move the franchise had made since relocating to Winnipeg. It has proved to be a master stroke by Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, as Winnipeg morphed in to one of the hottest teams in the NHL under Maurice.
The franchise now sits on 31 wins, and is 4 points shy of the final wild card spot – just a point behind Vancouver.
Whether the Jets make the cut or not, their resurgence under Maurice has ensured the clubs management is keen to get the former Carolina and Toronto coach tied to a long term deal.
But for Maurice, the surge has pushed his stock as high as it has perhaps ever been – making him, potentially, one of the most sought after coaches come the summer.
The 47-year old took Carolina to the Stanley Cup final in 2002 (losing to Detroit). He also took them to the Conference Final in 2009, and had two seasons with Toronto – finishing above .500 in both campaigns.
Whilst this may not seem overly impressive on the surface (for example there is at least one former Cup winning Coach available in Pete Laviolette), Maurice has shown an ability to help ‘unfancied’ clubs be competitive.
Given the season Vancouver has had, perhaps they could use a guy used to making more out of less right now.
For Maurice, it would also put him in a situation he has rarely been in before. Should he become Vancouver coach, you could argue he has more talent at his disposal than he has ever had – with the Sedin’s, Bieksa, Hamhuis, Burrows and Edler.
The ‘interim’ tag offers Maurice something of a ‘get out clause’ from Winnipeg, should a better off come along. And, with all due respect to the Jets, a move to BC would be pretty attractive to most coaches. Especially if the inevitable trade of Ryan Kesler plugs a few of the clubs holes.
A city his family would likely be open to calling home, a talented roster just two (well, three…) years removed from a Stanley Cup Final berth, and one willing to spend. What’s not to like in Vancouver? Especially when Maurice already survived the hot stove of being the Maple Leafs Coach…
Whilst Tortorella was uncharacteristically quiet following the Canucks collapse against the Islanders last Monday, Maurice is helping the Jets sore. And as much as I am inclined to agree with those that believe the Acquilini’s would rather not have to cut a cheque to remove Tortorella, it’s hard not to think GM Mike Gillis, a man fighting for his job as well, is not looking toward Manitoba and wondering ‘what if?’.
But the way the Jets have been playing, Gillis won’t be the only GM looking at Paul Maurice’s resume during the off season.