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Paul Maurice and Jim Rutherford



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Jim Rutherford watches a variety of hockey.

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It’s an enormous a part of his job — and his four-decade-long success — in spite of everything.

However when the Stanley Cup Remaining begins Saturday on the sting of the Everglades, he’ll have another excuse to concentrate: one of many coaches concerned is one in every of his oldest pals — coach Paul Maurice.

It’s been 40 years since Rutherford picked Maurice, a lanky defenceman from Sault Ste. Marie, within the OHL’s draft.

Maurice wasn’t truly at that draft, so when Rutherford, then operating the Windsor Compuware Spitfires, known as out his title and Maurice didn’t seem, Rutherford had a second of tension.

“I believed, oh boy, this can be a participant going to school,” he stated. However Maurice confirmed up for coaching camp, however within the group’s first pre-season sport, a deflected puck struck Maurice in the suitable eye.

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He suffered intensive harm however recovered effectively sufficient to hold on together with his enjoying profession. The Philadelphia Flyers picked him with the final collection of the 1985 NHL draft, however Maurice to this present day has points together with his peripheral imaginative and prescient and a blind spot within the centre of his proper eye.

This weakened imaginative and prescient meant his NHL dream wouldn’t change into a actuality.

“That will be the top for most individuals,” Rutherford stated. “However that’s once I actually bought to know him — his willpower and his character — and he was decided he was nonetheless going to play with one eye. And so he did. He performed for 4 years for the Spitfires. He was a superb defenceman.”

However when Rutherford began loading up the Spitfires’ roster halfway by means of the 1987-88 season, the group had too many overagers and Maurice wasn’t important. Rutherford and proprietor Peter Karmanos informed Maurice he would both be launched, or he may change into an assistant coach and begin to discover ways to educate the sport.

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Maurice leapt on the alternative. The Spitfires gained the OHL title that spring, then misplaced within the ultimate of the Memorial Cup to Trevor Linden’s Drugs Hat Tigers.

He served as an assistant till 1993, following Rutherford and Karmanos as they shifted to an growth operation throughout the river in Detroit. He was promoted to go coach and, on the finish of his second season in control of the group by then often called the Junior Pink Wings, he guided Detroit to the OHL title and once more discovered his group within the Memorial Cup ultimate.

The Kamloops Blazers, led by Jarome Iginla, crushed Detroit, however Maurice had made his mark. He was one of many hottest commodities in hockey teaching.

In 1994, Rutherford and Karmanos had purchased the Hartford Whalers. A 12 months later, they employed Maurice to be an assistant to Paul Holmgren, who Rutherford had requested to be his first head coach in 1994.

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Early within the 1995-96 season, with the Whalers struggling, Rutherford fired Holmgren and handed the reins to Maurice. Maurice was 28 and nonetheless stays the second-youngest head coach in league historical past, after Gary Inexperienced.

The Whalers had been struggling financially and in 1997, Karmanos and Rutherford moved them to North Carolina the place they grew to become the Hurricanes.

The group was speculated to be based mostly in Raleigh, however for his or her first two seasons they performed in Greensboro, 144 km away. It was going to be laborious sufficient to promote the group and the game in a area that knew subsequent to nothing about hockey; it was even tougher after they had been enjoying in a metropolis the place everybody knew they wouldn’t keep.

Rutherford credit Maurice’s position within the transition.

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“He took a troublesome scenario,” Rutherford stated.

Maurice and Rutherford and the Hurricanes grew collectively over the following six years. Alongside the way in which, Maurice guided a plucky, hard-working Hurricanes squad to the cup ultimate in 2002.

However with the group struggling in 2003-04, Rutherford needed to make the toughest name of his skilled life to that date: he needed to hearth his good friend.

“It’s laborious to terminate anyone, these coaches as a result of it’s by no means private. It’s simply change must be made,” Rutherford stated. Maurice was changed by Peter Laviolette and below the fiery American, the Hurricanes gained the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Maurice wasn’t out of hockey lengthy. He spent the lockout season out of labor, doing a little TV work with TSN, then was employed to teach the AHL’s Toronto Marlies in 2005. A 12 months later he was promoted to the Maple Leafs’ job and ran the Toronto bench for 2 seasons. Then he was again to Carolina; Rutherford employed him for the third time in his life.

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He was the Hurricanes’ coach till halfway by means of the 2011-12 season, when Rutherford fired him once more.

A dozen season later, Maurice is in his second consecutive cup ultimate. He coached a 12 months in Russia after his second Carolina dismissal, then was the Winnipeg Jets’ coach for eight seasons.

He took over the Panthers forward of the 2022-23 season.

His longevity, Rutherford stated, is as a result of respect and loyalty he has for his co-workers, which he earns in return.

“He’s very good. He reads the conditions effectively. He’s a superb communicator and could be very loyal to the people who he works with. And it really works the identical the opposite method.”

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