In a rather shocking turn of events, the Winnipeg Jets announced that head coach Paul Maurice has resigned, effective immediately.
The team’s public relations department put out a statement on Friday morning, saying that the club had accepted his resignation. The statement also announced that Dave Lowry would serve as the interim head coach, later confirmed by general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. Lowry will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.
An emotional Maurice spoke to the media on Friday, saying, “This is a good team, I’m a good coach… but sometimes you can only push so far. Sometimes a team needs a new voice, they need somebody to help them get to that next place. They haven’t quit on me, but they need a different voice. It’s the right time for it, and I know that.”
Maurice also talked about his experiences coaching through the pandemic, saying, “Going back to the bubble, to the lockout year, I didn’t enjoy it and that’s the very first time in my career I didn’t enjoy coming to the rink. If you lose some of that passion for the game, the love of the game, you can still be good, but you can’t be as good as you should be, or you could be, and that’s how I feel I am. So, this is where I’m at today.”
Maurice, 54, was in the midst of his ninth season behind the bench for Winnipeg. Through 600 games as the bench boss of the Jets, he posted a record of 315-223-62. The team has made the playoffs in five of its eight complete seasons under him, highlighted by a magical run to the Western Conference Final in 2018, where they fell in five games to the new kids on the block (at the time) in the Vegas Golden Knights.
Maurice was also the second longest-tenured head coach in the league, behind only Jon Cooper of the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
Lowry, 56, has served as an assistant coach for the Calgary Flames (2009-12) and Los Angeles Kings (2017-19) before coming to Manitoba in 2020-21. He’ll make his debut as a head coach on Friday night as the Jets play host to the Washington Capitals, who are currently tied for first place in the always competitive Metropolitan division.
Cheveldayoff also spoke to the media, saying, “I think he (Maurice) definitely felt that he couldn’t push the buttons, and we came to an agreement.” Cheveldayoff added that Maurice would be “well taken care of” following the move.
Maurice also mentioned that he, Cheveldayoff, and Mark Chipman (chairman for True North Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Jets) discussed this last summer while adding that this was a personal decision.
As for this season, the Jets still have some ground to make up. With a record of 13-10-5, they sit three points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Winnipeg is also on a two-game winless streak and has lost three of their last six games dating back to Dec. 1. They’re set to wrap up a three-game homestand in an afternoon matinee with the St. Louis Blues on Sunday before heading out on the road for two games to head into the Christmas break.