Yesterday, my Hens in the Hockey House had a go at two of the Winnipeg Jets’ Fiddle-Farters Three—Puck Pontiff Mark Chipman and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff—so now they’re taking aim at the much-maligned man behind the bench.
Question Lady: I realize you don’t like head coach Paul Maurice, but…
Answer Lady: Whoa, girlfriend. I’ve never said I didn’t like Coach Potty-Mouth. I’ve never met the dude. I’m guessing he’s a decent guy, maybe even a salt-of-the-earth guy who’d be fun to share pints with. Probably a terrific hubby and father, too. And that’s more important in the grand scheme of things than winning hockey games. It isn’t a matter of liking or disliking him, though. So let’s make it clear from the get-go that my sole issue with Maurice is his coaching.
Question Lady: Fair enough. Am I correct in assuming you aren’t a fan of his coaching?
Answer Lady: Let me use two words to describe the job he’s done with the Jets this National Hockey League season. Actually, they’re the same two words Coach Potty-Mo used to describe his players the night the Montreal Canadiens curb-stomped them 7-4 in January—“horse shit.”
Question Lady: Ouch. Don’t beat around the bush, girlfriend. Tell us what you really think of Maurice.
Answer Lady: Okay. He’s been “effing horse shit.”
Question Lady: Care to expand on that?
Answer Lady: Oh, darling, that shopping list is longer than a Winnipeg winter. Where to begin…his overuse of the erratic Dustin Byfuglien…his refusal to rein in Byfuglien…his set of rules for Byfuglien and his set of rules for everyone else…his odd infatuation with Chris Thorburn…his hard-ass attitude toward Nic Petan…his defensive scheme—if such an animal actually exists…his goalie blindness, which, in fairness, is a fatal flaw shared by all members of the Fiddle-Farters Three…his line juggling—he changes more parts than the pit crews at Daytona Speedway…his penalty-killing unit…his head-scratching use of Patrik Laine on the powerplay…his inability to make his workers clean up their act—seriously, all those brain-fart stick penalties…his moaning and groaning about the schedule and injuries…he’s a present-day snake oil salesman.
Question Lady: Well, is it not true that the Jets’ early-season sked was historically demanding?
Answer Lady: Spare me. At the Christmas break, seven teams had played 36 games and only one of them—the Jets—was below the playoff line. Coach Potty-Mo’s constant whinging about the schedule was a great big wah-wah-wah pity party. He was giving himself and, worse, his players an excuse for failure.
Question Lady: I’ve heard it said and I’ve seen it written that not even the great Scotty Bowman could have gotten more out of this Jets team than Maurice. You don’t agree?
Answer Lady: That’s an insult to Scotty Bowman. That’s all I have to say about that.
Question Lady: Would you fire Maurice at the end of the season?
Answer Lady: I would. Maurice isn’t going to become a better coach during the summer, and I don’t need or want a head coach who can’t grow with all the young talent on the Jets roster.
Question Lady: Wouldn’t a true No. 1 goaltender make him a better coach?
Answer Lady: Sure. And directing a movie with Meryl Streep in the lead role would make someone a better director. Or at least it should. But I don’t see GM Kevin Cheveldayoff prying Carey Price out of Montreal, Henrik Lundqvist out of Gotham, Braden Holtby out of D.C. or Devan Dubnyk out of Minny. I’m convinced that the Fiddle-Farters Three are convinced that Connor Hellebuyck is the answer in the blue ice. Still.
Question Lady: The goaltenders Maurice has had over the years are a lot like most of the teams he’s coached—mediocre. Could that be the reason he’s a career .500 coach?
Answer Lady: Let me ask you this—were the teams he’s coached mediocre, or were those teams mediocre because they had a mediocre coach?
Question Lady: Geez, that sounds like one of those zen koans. Can you make it less of a riddle?
Answer Lady: Okay. You’re saying that Coach Potty-Mo has never been surrounded with talent, right? So you’re telling me that Puck Finn isn’t talent? Rink Rat Scheifele isn’t talent? Blake Wheeler? Bryan Little? Twig Ehlers? Jacob Trouba? Josh Morrissey? Matty Perreault? Adam Lowry? Byfuglien? None of that is talent? Cripes, girlfriend, half his team is high-end talent and he can’t get it into the playoffs. People can talk all they like about shoddy goaltending, but coaching is the main problem with this team.
Question Lady: Will Chipman kick Maurice to the curb?
Answer Lady: Don Cherry will coach the Russian national team first.
Question Lady: What are you telling me? That Maurice is going the distance?
Answer Lady: Naw, nobody gets a lifetime contract. Except Chris Thorburn apparently. I’m saying that Coach Potty-Mo will be behind the bench in October. He might even have a new contract tucked in his britches. But a three-year deal doesn’t mean you get to coach for three years. Loyalty only stretches so far. Ask Claude Noel.
Question Lady: Before we go, is there anything about Maurice’s coaching that you like?
Answer Lady: Ya, I think he’s a snappy dresser.
Question Lady: Cheeky girl. What do you say we do dinner and talk about the players tomorrow?
Answer Lady: Sounds like a plan. There’s plenty to like there.
Patti Dawn Swansson has been scribbling about Winnipeg sports for 47 years, which means she is old and probably should think about getting a life.