Panthers: Paul Maurice focuses on the present

Panthers: Paul Maurice focuses on the present


MONTREAL | Of the NHL's 32 head coaches, Paul Maurice is one of the most generous and interesting with the media. The 55-year-old has a knack for explaining his sport in simple, yet clear and precise words. 

A few hours before another important game for the Panthers – a team desperate to climb in the standings in the Eastern Conference – Maurice said he always writes the names of the opposing team on a board. that he places in the locker room, but also those of the injured players.

“I am not content to indicate the starting line-up, I also want to know who will not play, told the coach- leader of the Panthers. You never know what can happen with a team. When the injured return, there are players who could no longer have a place in this team and go through waivers. You always keep an eye out.”

On the small board in the tiny locker room of the opposing team at the Bell Center, Maurice had written a formation of eleven attackers and seven defenders for the Canadian. We also saw the many absentees with Jake Evans, Juraj Slafkovsky, Sean Monahan, Joel Armia, Jonathan Drouin, Jake Allen and even Paul Byron, who has still not played this season.

The Panthers had also made a typo in Xhekaj's last name. There were two “h's” on the board. But in the not too distant future, we won't make any more mistakes with the name of number 72. 

A new start

Despite the conquest of the Presidents' Trophy (awarded to the team that finishes at the top of the overall standings), Bill Zito fired Andrew Brunette after the team's second round elimination of the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning, to replace him with a man of experience in Mauritius.

“Last year was last year,” said captain Aleksander Barkov. It's finish. We have several new faces within the team, but also in the organization. There is a new system in place, a new head coach. There are a lot of new things. We want to build a new chapter. But it takes time to adjust. I think we've been playing a lot better lately.”

Zito, the general manager of the Panthers, sacrificed his first-round pick for the 2023 draft by trading him last year to the Canadiens in a pact for defenseman Ben Chiarot.

The Panthers don't have not protected this choice in the transaction. The CH could therefore end up with a very good choice at the 2023 auction if the Florida team does not participate in the playoffs. In a dream scenario for Kent Hughes, but catastrophic for Zito, the Habs could win the lottery with the choice of the Panthers.

A white lie

In his first season behind the Panthers bench, Maurice now has the duty to put his team back in the playoff race. When asked if he felt more pressure since his team didn't have their first-round pick, the likeable coach probably played it up.

“You just told me that we don't have our first-round pick in 2023, he replied. It is not my responsibility. But I've heard that the value of a first-round pick after 23rd is no higher than many other picks.”

“A first-round pick is still a great thing for an organization, but also for the supporters. There are young prospects who can change the face of a team quickly. But they are rare. Often you have to wait four years to get results with a first-round pick. The coaches therefore do not devote too much energy to it. In a city like Montreal, you can pull out scout reports for the top 15 picks in the next draft.”