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It’s not exactly breaking news that employees and employers may occasionally talk trash about each other in private. But the Ottawa Senators made international headlines this week after an embarrassing video of several players bad-mouthing one of their coaches while being secretly recorded riding in an Uber vehicle.
Naturally, the story is getting major play in the nation’s capital. And it’s also created quite a buzz in locker rooms across the land.
While several Winnipeg Jets players politely declined to wade into the waters Tuesday, head coach Paul Maurice offered up an interesting view of the so-called scandal.
“I thought it was very, very mild, believe it or not,” he said after the team practised at Bell MTS Iceplex. “Players have said far more unkind things about coaches, and I can guarantee you coaches have done the exact same thing to players on a daily basis.”
Maurice said it’s the kind of situation most people can relate to, but one that also comes with an important reminder.
“Let’s do this from a different point of view, not a hockey point of view. Think of all the things you’ve said about your boss that you wouldn’t want on an Uber cam,” he said. “Sadly, they learn the lesson more than anybody else but everybody watching is understanding you’ve got to be more careful in this day and age about what you say in public, even when you think it’s private.”
The other big off-ice story Tuesday was the firing of veteran Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville after his team missed the playoffs last year and got off to a 6-6-3 start this season.
“Such an impressive run. I think Joel runs about the best bench in the league. Finds the guys that are going and gets them out there and works the matchups pretty darn well. It’s an unfortunate but inevitable part of the job, even if you win three Stanley Cups. But he’s in fine shape to continue a Hall of Fame career,” Maurice said.
The move comes just two days after John Stevens was given the axe by the Los Angeles Kings. It also means Maurice, now in his fifth full season with the Jets, is second in the NHL in terms of tenure, behind only the Tampa Bay Lightnings’ Jon Cooper.
“You just want to be on the top half of the list, not the bottom, that’s all,” Maurice cracked.
Brendan Lemieux is going to have to adapt if he wants to remain in the NHL. That’s the bottom line from his coach after the league came down with a two-game suspension for the Jets forward for a blindside hit to the head of Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck last week. The play happened a few minutes after Lemieux was penalized for a reckless high-stick to the face of Troy Brouwer.
“Brendan’s got a bit of a unique game. The physicality is a certain part of it. But that line that gets crossed, it can’t be who you become as a player. So it’s a learning experience for him,” Maurice said.
“A little too close to the edge on both those penalties. And there was a price paid for it both by our team and by his suspension. We need him to bring all the good qualities, that hard physical game, and ride that edge a little better.”
Although he doesn’t believe Lemieux went out with the intention of causing harm, Maurice said he fully supported the league’s decision.
“It’s a piece of the game that everybody wants out, even when one of your own guys does it. And you hope it comes out,” he said.
“That’s the challenge for the player. You still have to bring what you’re capable of bringing and what your skill set is. He’s a physical guy, he’s going to finish his check, going to go to the net hard. And he’s going to learn. We don’t expect that he’s going to come off the body. A half-step, right. Just a little more to the shoulder there and it’s a good, clean play.”
A handful of Jets players used Monday’s day off to toss the pigskin around with Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris at Investors Group Field.
Naturally, forward Andrew Copp assumed the role of quarterback, a position he played in high school in Michigan. Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey acted as his wide receivers.
“We obviously heard Copper was going. It was kind of his show. Scheif and Troubs and I wanted to go and kind of rib him a little bit about his football game, because we hear a lot about it,” Morrissey said.
“I think we all thought we were better than we were. I’m sure when Andrew Harris was watching us he was probably laughing. He didn’t laugh out loud too many times. But I’m sure he was chuckling at some of our mechanics. It was a really fun day, and pretty cool to watch Copper. He definitely has a pretty big arm, so the stories were true.”
Scheifele praised Copp for throwing a few perfect spirals in his direction.
“I caught a few big passes,” the No. 1 centre said. “I was on Harris’s team. He’s pretty good, too.”
Morrissey, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, said it was like watching an NFL legend at work.
“He (Copp) really slings that thing. We bug him a lot about it. He takes the brunt of the chirps about it. It was fun to go and support him and he proved us wrong. He was really gunning that thing around there. He looked like Tom Brady,” Morrissey said.
As for Harris, plans were put in motion for a future visit to a Jets practice from the Winnipeg product.
“It sounds like he used to play hockey and still skates in the off-season a little bit. He said when their season was done he might take a trip by one of the rinks here and go for a skate with us,” Morrissey said.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.