Paul Maurice and Stanley

June 26, 2024

I have been rooting for Paul Maurice ever since the 1984 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft when the Windsor Spitfires took the lanky defenseman in the third round from the Sault Ste. Marie Legion midgets.

I followed him closely and wrote about him often in the sports pages of the Sault This Week through the parts of four OHL seasons that he played for Windsor. I continued to follow him closely as he became an OHL assistant coach at age 21 and an OHL head coach a few years later.

I followed him from afar as he moved up the National Hockey League as first an assistant coach, then a head coach with the Hartford Whalers at the age of 28. I don’t when the last time was that I saw him in person or even talked to him on the phone. But being a Sault boy and — more importantly a good guy — I have never stopped following Paul or rooting for him. (I even liked the Toronto Maple Leafs for the two years that Paul coached them.)

Anyway, what a coaching ride it is been for our Paul Maurice, who grew up on Shannon Road in the Sault with his parents, Denis and Dolores, and his brothers, Mike and Shane. 

The record shows that Paul got his first win as an NHL head coach with Hartford on November 7, 1995. Almost 29 years later, on June 24, 2024, he got the biggest win of his NHL coaching career when his Florida Panthers edged the Edmonton Oilers in the seventh and deciding game of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Like so many others around the globe, I watched Game 7. And I watched and listened as Paul appeared on television after the Stanley Cup triumph and made a heartfelt speech about his players and his team — but mostly about his mom and dad and brothers and his wife’s family. 

He may be 57 years old but I still think of Paul as a kid; that rangy, blond haired, right hand shooting defenseman who got drafted by and played his entire OHL career for the Spitfires of Windsor. 

All these years I have watched the kid from the Sault grow into an NHL coaching legend with stops in Hartford, Carolina (twice), Toronto, Winnipeg and now Florida. Finally, 29 years after his first win as an NHL coach, Paul has a Stanley Cup championship.

Love it!

Not only have I been rooting for Paul for a long time now, but I also have an association to other members of his family. His dad taught me in elementary school at Holy Angels back in the early 1960s. Years later, his mom taught my daughter, Cara, at St. Mary’s high school. And while I don’t know Paul’s brother Mike, I have often seen younger brother Shane around Sault Ste. Marie over the years.

At any rate, the skinny kid with the quick wit and the smile of his mom and the stare of his dad has himself a Stanley Cup championship after all these years as an NHL coach.

Yes, exactly 10,457 days after his first win as an NHL coach, Paul Maurice has that elusive Stanley Cup championship. 

What a road it has been. As in, 1,986 NHL games coached between the regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs. 939 wins in all — including the biggest one that a coach can hope and pray for.

Well done, kid.

Paul Maurice raises the Stanley Cup.

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