The weather in Winnipeg may have been close to sub-zero over the last week, but the seat that Jets head coach Claude Noel was sitting on was hotter than the Sun and today was the last straw for the ownership after losing to Columbus 6-3 last night.
Taking the job when the franchise moved from Atlanta in 2011, Noel’s team is in the midst of a five-game losing streak and currently sits 10 points behind the final playoff spot in the West. If there was a time to make a coaching change to salvage the season to contend for the playoffs it would be now. Also let go today was assistant coach Perry Pearn. Behind the Jets’ bench, Noel went 80-79-18.
Replacing Noel is coaching veteran Paul Maurice. The 46-year-old has been behind the bench as an NHL head coach for 1,084 games while previously coaching the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Maurice will come to a team that is dealing with a laundry list of problems partly caused by Noel. The team had struggled defensively as they are 25th as a team in goals allowed with 3.00 goals allowed per game. They are also thin at the goaltending position as they insist on giving Ondrej Pavelec more starts than backup Al Montoya despite Montoya playing better when he’s been between the pipes. This season, Pavelec has a record of 11-19-4 while Montoya’s record is 8-4-1. Montoya has two shutouts compared to one from Pavelec, and the GAA and save percentages both favor Montoya (2.31 to 3.14 and .921 to .898 respectively). If there’s any immediate change Maurice should make heading into tomorrow night’s game against Phoenix, it would be that.
Maurice made the playoffs a few times when he coached in Carolina. He led the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup final in 2002 and to the Eastern Finals in 2009 when he was in his second stint with them. He was last a head coach last season when he coached Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League.