By Shawn Coates (@shawncoates)
WINNIPEG — Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff met with the media Sunday afternoon following the firing of head coach Claude Noel and assistant coach Perry Pearn.
Cheveldayoff relieved the duo of their coaching duties Sunday morning, just hours after the Jets had lost their fifth-straight game — a 6-3 drubbing at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Saturday night at MTS Centre. The Jets have hired former Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Paul Maurice to lead the team for the remainder of the 2013-2014 season.
“On behalf of the Winnipeg Jets organization, I would like to publicly thank Claude Noel and Perry Pearn for the extreme hard work that they’ve done over the course of their time here,” Cheveldayoff said.
The coaching change happened quickly. Cheveldayoff decided to fire Noel late Saturday night following the loss to Columbus. He approached True North Sports & Entertainment Chairman Mark Chipman to let him know of his intentions and Chipman agreed with the move. Cheveldayoff then talked with Maurice over the phone and came to a “brief agreement” on his hiring.
Cheveldayoff met with Noel and Pearn at MTS Centre early Sunday morning to tell them of his decision, and then made his way over to the MTS Iceplex to inform the Jets players of the news.
“It really wasn’t one single thing,” Cheveldayoff said of the firing. “Over the course of a period of time we had a certain level of expectation collectively and individually for players and it became apparent over the last little while that things were not trending in the right direction and that we were going to have to do something to move things back into a fashion of moving forward.”
“We believe that we are underachieving,” Cheveldayoff added. “It’s up to the players, in some respects, to show what they’re all about. At the end of the day, we have to take a long, hard look at what others steps we need to take to move forward.”
The 46-year-old Maurice comes to Winnipeg with 14 years of experience as an NHL head coach. He has a career NHL coaching record of 460-457-167.
“Hiring Paul Maurice is something that we feel very good about,” Cheveldayoff said. “He is an experienced NHL coach. He has a lot of experience at the NHL level. He has a lot of experience with both veteran players and young players. He’s experienced both sides of the game — he’s experienced success and he’s experienced failure but he’s battled hard, he’s energetic and he’s chomping at the bit to get back in the National Hockey League.”
With the quick coaching change, Cheveldayoff said the re-evaluation process will continue.
“He (Maurice) and I will sit down and have some candid conversations about each and every player. We’ve had some conversations briefly about some of the players but not nearly enough in-depth as we need to moving forward.”
Maurice will arrive in Winnipeg late Sunday night before leading the Jets in a pre-game skate Monday morning in advance of the team’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes Monday at 7 p.m. at MTS Centre.