The Winnipeg Jets have parted ways with former head coach Claude Noel on Sunday morning, as per TSN. They then followed up the move by hiring Paul Maurice—former longtime coach of the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Noel spent two and a half seasons behind the bench as head coach. He finished with a record of 80-79-18.
It was inevitable that Noel was on his way out and would have gotten canned at some point this season. Whether it was done today or in April, it was going to happen. After the Jets' embarrassing home-ice loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, Kevin Cheveldayoff pulled the trigger.
It's a desperation move at this point. It's not one that will save an already lost season. It is a move that had to happen nonetheless.
The full blame is not placed on the coach in this case, though. The Jets just needed to make a change and used the coach as a scapegoat. That's the easy way out.
If Noel was a problem, he was one of many that still exist. And I do believe Noel was a problem...just one of many.
Maurice, much like Noel, is considered a “good guy.” He’s a true player’s coach. But before the Jets can embrace the Maurice era, they have to move on from the Noel one.
There have been mixed reactions among the players. They will be the first to tell you how good of a guy Noel is. They’ll tell you how it was their fault that he was fired. As we’ve learned after recent postgame interviews, talk is cheap if you can’t back it up on the ice.
The Jets had plenty of chances to raise Noel from the hot seat. The current five-game losing streak was the nail in the coffin.
Veteran forward Olli Jokinen spoke his mind on the situation.
Jokinen tells it like it is. It’s sad yet true. The product on the ice isn’t up to NHL standards right now. As Jokinen states, this could be the first of many changes if things don’t start to shape up on the ice.
It goes beyond the coaching, as it usually does when a coach is fired.
Noel wasn’t dealt the greatest of hands when he took over as Jets coach. It’s difficult to turn budding NHL fourth-liners into top-nine talent. However, he was unable to spark any confidence in the players.
"We're all responsible. As players we need to look at ourselves. This is an indication of the product we're putting on the ice." - Wheeler— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) January 12, 2014
"We're a team in here and it's never easy... it's not just him, we're all together. We didn't do what we had to do." - Dustin Byfuglien— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) January 12, 2014
Both Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien acknowledge that this is a team thing. Each and every player is responsible for the firing of Noel.
Some more heartfelt statements poured out.
It’s easy to see that Noel was liked in the locker room. Contrary to what you might hear elsewhere, the players on this team wanted to win for their coach.
It comes down to winning in the NHL, not how well received you are as a coach, unfortunately. Noel lost the team. Somewhere down the line, he lost them.
Now it’s time for the players to look in the mirror and attempt to regain confidence in Winnipeg hockey.
It’ll start with the captain, but there are many leaders on this team. Andrew Ladd is certainly going to take a lot of the blame. The on-ice as well as off-ice leadership flows through Ladd.
"It's a sad day obviously, but you try and look forward to the future." - Zach Bogosian— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) January 12, 2014
Noel was a well-respected man. Still, you can’t gloom on the past forever. The Paul Maurice era begins now.