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Jets sign Paul Maurice to four-year deal, sticking with Pavelec in net

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Paul Maurice took over in Winnipeg with 35 games to go. (Getty Images)
Paul Maurice took over in Winnipeg with 35 games to go. (Getty Images)

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You can take the interim tag off Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice. He's officially their new bench boss.

After taking over mid-season for the fired Claude Noel, Maurice came in and immediately saw the Jets go on a run to momentarily flirt with the playoffs. They tapered off down the stretch and were eliminated with a few games to go but GM Kevin Cheveldayoff still saw enough from Maurice to give him a four-year contract.

"Quite honestly it really didn't take that long," Cheveldayoff said. "He's an impressive hockey coach, but he's an impressive person as well. Made a tremendous impact the moment he walked in."

In his 35 games with Maurice, the Jets were 18-12-5 whereas they were 19-23-5 this season under Noel.

But bumps from coaching changes aren't that unusual so it's hard to know how much was the improvement just do to change or how much was actually Maurice's doing. We'll find out more next season on that front.

One thing that doesn't lend well to Maurice proving he was the difference, though, was this declaration from Cheveldayoff on Wednesday.

The Jets were not all that bad this season or last but the same can't be said for Pavelec. It's not hard to make the argument that he has been the NHL's worst starting goaltender over the past three seasons and yet he remains entrenched in the Jets net. This past season he had a .901 save percentage and now in his career that has spanned seven seasons, his save percentage is .906. In today's NHL, that's well below par.

Considering the quality of goalies that will be available this summer -- potentially including disgruntled Leafs goalie and Winnipeg native James Reimer -- it seems as though the Jets are doing themselves a real disservice to not look at upgrading in net because it has clearly been holding them back and that's something no coach can do much about.

So it is a bit of a good news/bad news day for Winnipeggers.

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