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Winnipeg Fires Claude Noel, Hires Paul Maurice

The Winnipeg Jets tried to stop the bleeding by firing head coach Claude Noel on Sunday and replacing him with Paul Maurice. The Winnipeg front office fired Noel as Winnipeg has lost five consecutive games dropping them to 19-23-5, which puts them 10 points from the final spot in the Western Conference playoff hunt.

Noel was hired prior to the 2011-2012 season after the team, known then as the Atlanta Thrashers, moved to Winnipeg. While with the Jets, Noel was 80-79-18.

Atlanta moved north to rid itself of its old name and start afresh, but with Noel now being fired its shows the franchise has a great deal to do before they are headed in the right direction.

Andrew Ladd, the captain of Winnipeg said the firing of his coach was a big shock. The Jets canceled their practice on Sunday after the news of Noel’s firing was released. The team fired Perry Pearn the team’s assistant coach along with firing Noel.

New coach Maurice has inherited a club that is struggling in its third season north of the border thanks for the most part because of a lack of good goaltending and breakdowns on the defense. Maurice, who is 46, has been a head coach in the NHL for 1,084 games, so he does have a great deal of experience.

Ladd said no one was expecting the firing and commented that two good coaches are now unemployed and it boils down to the players performance causing the firing, which he said makes it tough on everyone.

The Jets lost on Saturday 6-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a game that Ladd admits he played terribly and the home fans booed the team as they left the ice. The Winnipeg front office took its decision to fire Noel shortly after that loss.

Noel signed a contract extension of one-year in June following last season when the club failed to make the postseason.

Maurice was not in Winnipeg when he negotiated his new contract with Kevin Cheveldayoff the general manager for Winnipeg. The two came to terms on the phone and a contract will be signed when he arrives later Sunday in Winnipeg. The deal Maurice is signing lasts only through season’s send said Cheveldayoff.

Olli Jokinen, a 16-year veteran in the NHL said the entire team should feel embarrassed when it comes time to change the coach. The coaches said Jokinen, spent hours trying to figure a way to make things better and this time, the players failed to respond.

The first game for Maurice behind the bench will be at the MTS Centre on Monday versus the Phoenix Coyotes. Maurice has coached at two other franchises including the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes.

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