Winnipeg signs coach Paul Maurice to 4-year deal

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) - Coach Paul Maurice has been given a four-year extension by the Winnipeg Jets.

And he and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff appear to be agree on some of the team’s needs.

One of them is keeping Ondrej Pavelec as the team’s starting goaltender.

Cheveldayoff said it was disappointing not to make the playoffs, but he didn’t suggest he’s deviating in any big way from his draft-and-develop philosophy and that includes sticking with his 26-year-old starting goalie.

Ondrej Pavelec is the No. 1 goaltender going into next season,” the general manager said.

“He’s relatively a young goaltender when it comes to being a starting goaltender and when you give those young players those opportunities to excel there’s going to be some bumps along the way.”

Pavelec has received criticism because of a save percentage of .901 and a goals-against average of 3.01.

Maurice said he wouldn’t have a lot to say about who plays for the team, which is a general manager’s job, but he had no problem at all with Pavelec as his starting goalie.

“We’re at a stage in our franchise where we’ve got three or four potentially critical pieces through our lineup that are here that we’ve got to make better. We’ve got to put them in a position to be better then they have to be better. …

“And I think Evander Kane falls into that hole, really good young talented players that need to develop, that need to get better and I think they will get better … In my mind, with Ondrej Pavelec, we have to do everything we can as a team to give our goaltending the best chance to win us games and that hasn’t happened yet.”

Kane finished with only 19 goals this season, fewer than the 30 he scored in 2011-12, although this season he missed 19 games - 18 due to injuries and another as a healthy scratch, reportedly for missing a team meeting.

Maurice came in as Claude Noel’s replacement in January and impressed Jets management as well as the players with his skills.

“He’s an impressive hockey coach but he’s an impressive person as well,” Cheveldayoff said.

“He walked in and he made a tremendous impact from the moment he walked in and we believe that we’re just scratching the surface on the impact he can make on this franchise moving forward.”

Maurice said on the phone from his home in Ohio that he made the decision fairly early on that he wanted to stay in Winnipeg. The deal was done Tuesday and he immediately flew home to talk about it with his family and they supported him.

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