Unpacking Paul Maurice's oddly introspective decision to leave Winnipeg

Paul Maurice's departure from the Winnipeg Jets was packaged in a very unique, very positive manner. Question is: Was it window dressing?

Video Transcript

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Paul Maurice just leaving his post as coach of the Winnipeg Jets. This happened to everyone's surprise on Friday. He said in what was a typically eloquent and interesting news conference that he doesn't believe he's the best coach for this team anymore. And he said, quote, "when you have a 26 year professional hockey coaching career, you know."

Now Paul Maurice swoons us, swoons the media. Everybody in the media loves Paul Maurice because he gives you thoughtful answers. He's like straight out of a movie the way he talks. He could be the coach in the movie that brings this team from the depths of obscurity to the championship all in a 90 minute flick. He's that guy. He's the guy that everyone wants to see on television. And he's the guy who will get media support because of how he's acted in the media for so long.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: "Ted Lasso"?

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I haven't seen "Ted Lasso" but I just expect he's hockey's version of Ted Lasso in some way.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Is Paul Maurice-- here's the thing. I'm not in the Winnipeg market. I haven't been on any press conferences. I've never got to ask him a question. But is Paul Maurice throwing out corny sayings every now and again?

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: No. I just think he's like-- the only reason why the media likes him is because he will not scoff at your question. He's going to give you a great answer. He's going to help you write your piece. That's literally what it is. But I don't want to diminish the fact that--

JULIAN MCKENZIE: So no Ted Lasso.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: No. I don't want to diminish the fact that he's one of the hockey minds that is considered most interesting, thoughtful, charismatic, whatever. And he gets that respect for that reason. But it's also everyone had that immediate spin like, wow. I mean, I can't believe how aware this guy is. I can't believe how confident and comfortable in his skin he is to realize this, to realize that he's not the best coach, and to fall on the sword for his organization.

I mean, that is exactly-- I mean, I talked about the media liking it. He wrote the story for them. It is a perfect story to write. And it's very easy because he's going to provide the quotes. And I myself found that-- I thought, wow. What an accomplished man. I mean, how-- you could think about your career and the the way it's going to 26 years in to feel so confident in yourself and what you've accomplished to not have to fight anymore, to have to prove yourself. That would be a nice, luxurious thing. I was like, man, I feel envious of this guy.

But then I think about it a little bit more and that cynic sort of comes into me into my head. And I'm like, was this completely his choice? Is he too aware? Was this like, what are you doing here? You don't have to be this honest. You could just get your paycheck and continue to coach the team and do what you love to do. But I guess the narrative he was trying to spin is that he doesn't love it anymore. He doesn't like coming to the rink as much anymore. It was tough on him coaching in the bubble and all that.

But now there's a little bit of whispers like, was it his choice? Was this just sort of a handshake agreement between the executive board and him to make this seem as if he was walking away on his own volition? I don't know if this was valiant. I don't know if this was foolish. I don't know if they just sold us the story here. But the bottom line is that Paul Maurice is out. And one of the best coaches in terms of career and potential prospects in the broadcasting injury-- industry rather, is on the market.

So what is your thoughts now that I've vomited mine all over the place on Paul Maurice leaving Winnipeg and for whatever reason he did that?

JULIAN MCKENZIE: So I didn't get a chance to watch the press conference when everyone else was watching it. I was too busy knee deep going through COVID stuff. But I noticed how so many people got wrapped up in the Paul Maurice thing and were enamored with how he handled it. And part of me wondered if because of the fact that it ended up being such a wholesome moment, pretty much in the eye of this COVID storm that we had to weather through throughout the week, we're using that hurricane analogy again, maybe that was a big reason why so many people got wrapped up into it.

This was a nice story. I mean, yes. A man decided he was going to leave his coaching job. But essentially, it was on his terms. He said, you know what? I don't feel this anymore. I want to do something different. And so many people-- I mean, like I said, I've never really been in a situation where I got to ask him questions. So I don't know what his personality is like. I've seen the clips here and there with his personality and all that. But that's as far as it goes for me. But yeah. I get the sense that he is well liked around the National Hockey League.

And I think in that particular moment where we were inundated with COVID story, after COVID story, after COVID story, it was just easy for a lot of people to just kind of be like, oh man. This is nice. This is a good story. This is an interesting story. But at the same time, I too felt cynical at different points just kind of like, why is it being portrayed this way? Is he actually doing this because he generally wanted to leave? Did the Jets want to move on too and this sort of worked out as a mutual thing?

And I hate to kind of go this way, but in light of everything that we've endured this past year, is there more afoot with why he's leaving? And that's not to say I don't know anything with Paul Maurice. I'm not out here making any accusations. But it is something that crossed my mind. Why did this happen this way? Why did he leave on his own terms like that? So many things kind of crept into my mind with regards to that. So for a guy like Paul Maurice, I think of him as a good coach.

And I'm sure that if he wanted to coach somewhere else, there would definitely be teams lining up at the ready trying to hire him in the NHL. And if he wanted to work in broadcasting, if I'm ESPN, hey. Let's get Paul Maurice in. If I'm TNT, let's add him in. Even SportsNet or TSN, I don't think it hurts to have him work there. But I am very curious about the fact that Paul Maurice is not working with the Winnipeg Jets anymore. Was there something with the core there? Did he really just genuinely feel he tapped out as much as he could from these guys and just couldn't do it anymore?

I have more questions than answers, but I am happy that if this is really what he wants that he had the stones to just step up and say, you know what, man? I'm done. I've done as much as I can. Because we've seen so many coaches in the NHL go way beyond their expiry date. And I know the GM has something to do with that. But he could have easily gone out as-- what's that quote from "The Dark Knight"? You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain? I mean, there's nobody going to be dying as a head coach. I mean, as far as we know.

But he could have easily just been this terrible coach and everyone's like, oh this guy can't get us. This guy has made the team worse. But he said, you know what? I'm at the edge here. I'm just going to step off.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, I mean, I think that's a good reference because he is one of the few, at least that's how it's portrayed, that's going to be able to leave without being fired. I mean, I think I saw someone tweet that the second best way to go out after winning a Stanley Cup was the way that Paul Maurice just went out. And again, that is the power that Paul Maurice seems to have over media members because again, he treats them so well in a professional sense and a personal sense I suppose.

I think your knee jerk reaction like, oh, something else must be afoot here, is that's how we're conditioned now. Because this is so rare. You don't just go out because you're choosing to do the right thing for someone else. And that's how Paul Maurice spun it. He's like this organization means too much to me to see them not reach their potential under me. I mean, that is pretty wild stuff. That is a very selfless stuff. And again, if it is genuine. It's pretty impressive. I mean, you got to admit if that is completely, 100% genuine, that is impressive.

But the Winnipeg Jets are a very-- they're are a lot about PR. They're a lot about taking care of their own. They're are a lot about putting their best foot forward. And this might be the perfect. They architected this beautifully in that they spun it in the way that they did. That is-- I don't want to put it out of the realm of possibility. But again, what we know now, this was something different. This was something to consider. This was something to contemplate because it was just so different.

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