There has been plenty said already very early on this season about Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice and just how effective he’s been for the team as it is built now. Sportsbooks like BetOnline have predicted the Jets can be playoff contenders, but they’ve disappointed in recent years.
That ongoing debate has only been fueled by a disastrous two-game start to the regular season, wins that haven’t looked overly convincing and have defied some statistical odds, and the prospect of two coaching milestones that he will hit within the first month of the season – one of which he accomplished on Friday night.
The Jets 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild was the Paul Maurice’s 600th win as head coach of an NHL club.
600 and counting for Paul Maurice! Congrats on the accomplishment, coach. pic.twitter.com/tMszjGxfoZ
— NHL (@NHL) October 21, 2017
Paul is now 17th all-time in head coaching wins, 6th amoung still active coaches (Toronto’s Mike Babcock is two wins ahead of him, Alain Vigneault is 16 ahead)
He also has the second-worst winning percentage in that all-time top 20 list with a .439 mark. The “race” for the worst winning percentage mark is a tightly contested battle between PoMo and Washington coach Barry Trotz who at .438 is one notch below him as of publishing time.
Maurice’s other coaching milestone that he’s about to hit is quite a bit more dubious.
Six more Jets losses with Paul at the helm will help the coach set the all-time mark for most regulation losses by an NHL head coach. Maurice has 572 losses, the record is 577 held by Al Arbour.
One more loss for Maurice ties him with Scotty Bowman for all-time losses.
About Scotty and Al…
Throwing around hall of fame names around in association with the idea of most losses ever does seem a bit blasphemous, but when you look into the careers of both Arbour and Bowman, you understand how they have so many losses.
Scotty Bowman has never coached a team that played a full season of sub .500 hockey, and only three times did he coach a team that had 30 or more losses in a season. That all said, he coached a remarkable 30 seasons so even if he only picks up 20 losses per season, it still adds up.
Al Arbour is also in the same argument as Bowman as he has coached 23 seasons in the NHL, but where Al’s numbers were hurt was by Islanders teams that suffered through rebuilds during the late 80’s and early 90’s.
For Maurice supporters, these are also arguments that can be made in support of why Paul is about to set the mark for most losses.
Maurice has coached for 20 years. The quality of goaltending he’s had in those 20 years has long been a source of many blog posts and conversations.
In Paul Maurice's 19-year tenure as an NHL head coach, his goalies have a combined .904 Save Percentage
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 14, 2017
Paul has never had full control of his roster as a general manager, so there is some legitimacy to the argument that Paul has done as well as can be hoped for what he’s been given to work with.
So is he a good coach, or a bad one?
As it’s been suggested by some, he’s probably more of a survivor than he is a good or bad coach. His ability to communicate with management and players alike has always been listed as a strong suit of his and is likely what got him an extension in Winnipeg even without any real success to be seen.
In previous seasons, his coaching style would be ideal for a team that maybe had a few good, talented players but needed to rely on the hallmarks of defence and “gritty play” but this season has been different.
The Jets clearly have some dynamic, talented players on the roster and yet Maurice continues to verbally state that players like Adam Lowry and Matt Hendricks and how they play on the third and fourth lines will be key for a successful Jets season.
The debate isn’t going away.
Jets fans will have to get used to the Paul Maurice debate and conversations for the near future. A multi-year contract extension suggests that True North Sports Entertainment sees no reason to let him go even if things do go sideways. Perhaps they have so much faith in Maurice that they feel there is no possible way this season can’t be anything but one that has a playoff run in it.
By the end of this season, Maurice will be top 15 all time in head coaching wins and possibly be knocking on the door of the top 10. He’ll also have the most regulation losses of any head coach ever.
And even after his time with the Winnipeg Jets is done, many a hockey fan and media member alike will continue to debate.
Paul Maurice: Really good persevering coach, or coach that somehow managed to survive despite multiple bad seasons and lack of any consistent playoff success?