Beginning of a New Era

Beginning of a New Era

After starting 2014 with a five game losing streak, Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff felt it was time for a change. Claude Noel was relieved of his head coaching duties and was replaced by veteran coach Paul Maurice. Since the team moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg, Noel had been the only coach for the Jets with a record of 80-79-18 failing to reach the postseason. Maurice succeeds Noel with an NHL record of 460-457-167 with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes. To the delight of Jets fans, the move paid off instantly.

After a disheartening loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-5, the Jets travelled back home to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Earlier in the day, Team Canada was selected with a notable omission – Lightning forward Martin St. Louis. The Jets were on the receiving end of a poised St. Louis as he scored twice leading the Lightning to a 4-2 win. Winnipeg could only muster 14 shots on net in an overall lackluster effort.

The final straw for Claude Noel was a 6-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets two nights later. In a last ditch effort to generate offense and wins, defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was moved to forward. Although, Byfuglien played well in a familiar role, the Jets surrendered four goals in the second period. Both Mark Letetsu and Boone Jenner had a pair of goals for Columbus. The Jets were booed off the ice and the following morning Noel was fired.

Enter Paul Maurice. Playing under a new coach revitalized the Jets instantly easily beating the Phoenix Coyotes 5-1. The energized Jets looked faster, focused, and more disciplined in Maurice’s first game behind the bench to end a season long five game losing streak. After the game, coach Maurice talked about his first win.

“It was awesome,” Maurice said. “It was a very special moment in my career and I’ll cherish it.”

The Jets continued their strong play on the road beating the Calgary Flames 5-2. Rookies Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba both scored and Ondrej Pavelec made 21 shots in the victory.

In a Saturday afternoon matinee, the Jets welcomed the Edmonton Oilers to the MTS Centre. Once again, Jets young guns of Scheifele and Trouba provided the offensive spark leading the Jets to a 3-2 win in overtime. Both rookies scored in regulation and Trouba would score his second of the game in overtime to give the Jets their third straight win.

The Winnipeg Jets will look to continue their recent success under Paul Maurice on the road taking on the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks. The Jets sit in seventh in the Central with a 22-23-5 record.