SUNRISE — Paul Maurice will never make the Florida Panthers run to the Stanley Cup Final about himself, although he certainly knows these opportunities do not come along very often.
For himself, it has been 21 years.
Back in 2002, Maurice’s Carolina Hurricanes made it to the Cup Final, won Game 1 against Detroit but did not win another game in the series.
After all of these years, Maurice is back.
For the Panthers, it has been 27 years since they have had the chance to play for the Stanley Cup.
It is a special moment for everyone involved.
”It is a different kind of fun,’’ Maurice said Friday, a few hours after his Panthers swept the Hurricanes out of the Eastern Conference finals with a 4-3 win in Game 4.
“There is a level of enjoyment coming to the rink and now there’s a finality to it. We’re between four-and-seven games. That’s what is left. Every kind of bit of success you have as a team builds the joy in the room but it has been good all year. It’s just a little more fun right now.”
Just about a year ago, Maurice did not have an inkling he would be back in this position or even be the head coach of an NHL team.
Now look at him.