Paul Maurice, basking in Stanley Cup glow, wants Winnipeg Jets to next win hockey’s Holy Grail

Paul Maurice is in the Sunshine State, revelling in the rays of the Stanley Cup, but part of his heart clearly remains in Winnipeg.

Mere moments after his team won the NHL championship trophy on Monday night, the Florida Panthers’ head coach turned his thoughts to the team he left behind.

“If I could have one thing more, it’d be for the Winnipeg Jets to win the next Stanley Cup,” he told Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas as music echoed through Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Florida, and players celebrated with the freshly-polished silver cup.

The Panthers leapt to a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final series against the Edmonton Oilers before collapsing over the next three games as Edmonton tied the series, leading to Monday’s winner-take-all game. 

And it was Florida who took it, 2-1.

Maurice, who is second on the NHL’s all-time games coached list, had never before won Lord Stanley’s mug, though he had been in the final dance.

He got Carolina to the title series in 2002, but the Hurricanes lost in five games to the Detroit Red Wings.

Maurice joined the Jets in January 2014, replacing the fired Claude Noël as head coach, and led them the following season to their first playoff appearance since relocating from Atlanta.

In 2017–18, Maurice guided the Jets to the furthest they have ever been in the post-season, taking them to the Western Conference Finals before they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights.

A hockey team is seen sitting on a team bench in an arena
Then-Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice is seen leading his team against the Calgary Flames and their assistant captain Matthew Tkachuk in October 2021. Both Maurice and Tkachuk joined the Panthers the following summer. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Maurice stepped down in December 2021, telling reporters at a news conference that he loved the team but it was time to move on.

“I’ve pushed as long and as hard as I can here. I love these guys. They need a new voice, and I know that,” he said at the time.

He holds the franchise record for games coached (600) and wins (315). He posted a 315-229-62 record during his Jets years.

Maurice was introduced as the Panthers’ coach in June 2022. But he literally left part of his heart behind: his daughter, Sydney, still lives in Winnipeg.

“It will always be a special place,” he said in a story posted on the Panthers website when Maurice brought his Panthers to town in December 2022 — his first time back since handing in his Jets ID.

“My kids came here at a young age, and they became who they are in Winnipeg.”