Maurice Will Push Players to Maximum

By Campbell, Tim | Winnipeg Free Press, September 15, 2014 | Go to article overview

Maurice Will Push Players to Maximum


Campbell, Tim, Winnipeg Free Press


Hopes team's leaders will be a driving force of change

PENTICTON, B.C. -- He is armed with a new four-year contract and probably has maximum clout to rule over the Winnipeg Jets when training camp begins on Thursday.

But Paul Maurice said Sunday it will not be him driving the desired transformation of a team that has not seen the Stanley Cup playoffs for seven years running -- even though he has promised the most difficult of training camps.

"In terms of how our camp is going to be, I'm hoping the leadership makes it really, really hard because they drive it," said Maurice, here at the Canucks Young Stars Classic tournament to watch the Jets' prospects for two games. "The coach can scream. Anybody can get through a practice. But to do it day after day, that's driven by your leaders.

"They will set that internal pace and that's far more important than a coach who's screaming. It'll be the level of push and compete by your veteran guys."

You will recall that before he had completed his deal to stay on as the reborn Jets' second head coach, he put the team through their longest practice of the season in the final week of the regular campaign.

It was one hour 40 minutes long and 50 of those minutes were a bag skate without any pucks.

The timing and the method was unusual for an NHL team today, but Maurice also came with a message -- that a drive for fitness is what to expect next fall.

"I think you'll find that two or three days doesn't make a tough camp," Maurice said Sunday. "A couple of bag skates doesn't make a hard camp. By Day 5 or 6, the players have to take over the training camp. The leadership has to push it."

The physical and fitness aspects are the areas Maurice identified over his three months coaching the team. He took over mid-season, on Jan. 12, and posted an 18-12-5 mark, though the Jets missed the playoffs by seven points.

He clarified Sunday the difficult camp that's coming is not revenge and it's not punishment.

"Training camp will be as hard as the players make it," he said. "It's the only chance that we get all year to push harder. There's no negative consequences to a hard practice because the exhibition games don't count for our leaders.

"And we're never getting the chance to have hard skates, do the conditioning work. It's not the be-all end-all. But it's a real piece.

"And for us, it's an area we can improve. We need a good, hard look at each component in our group of things that make up our team and fitness is one of them."

Maurice will have some limitations as to how hard he can push the Jets starting next week.

The CBA mandates the team can only work three hours per day, and only 1:45 of that on the ice. …

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