How the stars aligned for Paul Morris to become the head coach of the Panthers

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Paul Morris’ journey towards becoming the new coach of Florida Panthers An accidental flick of the remote control was involved, as well as one aided by the college admissions department.

He was watching the game one night in January, after a month or so when he stepped down as coach of Winnipeg Jets, He stumbled upon the Panthers and quickly told his wife that he was concerned with their club.

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Paul Morris, right, is introduced as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers by General Manager Bill Zito, during an NHL hockey news conference at FLA Live Arena, Friday, June 23, 2022 in Sunrise, Fla.
(AP Photo/Jim Rassol)

Fast forward a few weeks, and Maurice’s son was admitted to the University of Miami. This was another sign.

“I’m thinking, ‘Hey, this might be cool,'” Maurice said.

The Panthers hope he is right. Maurice was introduced as Florida’s new coach on Thursday, emphasizing the team found his experience in a month-long search – he has the fourth-most games and seventh-most wins of any coach. NHL History – Makes him the perfect fit.

“When we talked to Paul Maurice, it was overwhelming that this was a really fit guy,” said Panthers general manager Bill Zito. “He was fit to lead us into the challenges that lie ahead, as we ultimately move beyond what our goal is.”

Jito called Maurice last week to begin the interview process, which led to his appointment. Zito was a longtime agent in the NHL but had never actually met Maurice, although there were several players who played for him over the years.

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Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito, and new Panthers head coach Paul Maurice take questions during an NHL hockey news conference at the FLA Live Arena on Friday, June 23, 2022 in Sunrise, Fla.

Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito, and new Panthers head coach Paul Maurice take questions during an NHL hockey news conference at the FLA Live Arena on Friday, June 23, 2022 in Sunrise, Fla.
(AP Photo/Jim Rassol)

Everything Zito said to Maurice worked, and got to work quickly.

“The interview process was amazing,” Maurice said. “I don’t know how much time you spend with Bill, but he can tell you about hockey in about 15 minutes, right? So, I’m in the foam for an hour at the meeting and ready to go. . And that’s what drives me, and that’s what I love. Really smart, passionate people who want to put together not only a great sport, but a great program for the community.”

The Panthers will be the fourth franchise to be coached by Maurice. He debuted at Hartford in 1995, two seasons before the franchise relocated to Carolina. He coached Toronto for two seasons before returning to Carolina, then spent nearly nine years as a coach at Winnipeg before moving there in December.

Maurice just felt like he needed a break. And then he saw the Panthers play from his couch about a month later. He no longer needed a pause, and that feeling grew stronger when he began his conversation with Jeeto.

“They’re working on things,” Maurice said. “If it happens they have a plan, if it happens they have a plan. And they’re set to work and you know right away, ‘I want to be a part of this.’ So that switch flipped pretty quickly and it wasn’t from ‘I’m not coaching anymore.’ It was, ‘I’m just going to a place where I feel like I can make a difference.'”

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Paul Morris, right, is introduced as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers by General Manager Bill Zito, during an NHL hockey news conference at FLA Live Arena, Friday, June 23, 2022 in Sunrise, Fla.

Paul Morris, right, is introduced as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers by General Manager Bill Zito, during an NHL hockey news conference at FLA Live Arena, Friday, June 23, 2022 in Sunrise, Fla.
(AP Photo/Jim Rassol)

Maurice has been the head coach of the NHL for the better part of 30 years, and has yet to win Stanley Cup.

Same goes for the Panthers. They made the finals in 1996, were moribund for most of the next quarter-century, then things took a turn in recent years, winning the Presidents Trophy this season and most of their star corps – Alexander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Eckblad, Sergei Bobrovsky and more – under contract at least for the next season.

They have some roster questions to navigate this summer, some pay-cap complications and it’s unclear what happened to Andrew Brunet – who was promoted from assistant to interim coach when Joel Queneville stepped down last fall. Had – will be back with Florida. The Panthers want him to stay, as does Maurice.

But the ultimate goal is clear: the only thing that will make next year a complete success is hockey’s ultimate prize, and Maurice says he is desperate to get started.

Paul Maurice, the new head coach of the Florida Panthers, and Bill Zito, general manager, take questions during an NHL hockey news conference at the FLA Live Arena on Friday, June 23, 2022 in Sunrise, Fla.

Paul Maurice, the new head coach of the Florida Panthers, and Bill Zito, general manager, take questions during an NHL hockey news conference at the FLA Live Arena on Friday, June 23, 2022 in Sunrise, Fla.
(AP Photo/Jim Rassol)

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“Certainly, that’s aspiration and that’s where we want to go,” Maurice said. “But we can’t run a cup in October or at training camp. So, we have to prepare in that work from day one and what to do on a daily basis. And that should be our focus. We’re on day one.” Not coming in and saying, ‘We’re gonna win the Stanley Cup’ because we can’t win it that day.”