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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Paul Maurice Is Popular With His Players. And the Media

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Florida panthers
Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice, pictured here in November, has made it so his press conferences are must-attend events for the local and national media alike during the playoffs. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

As was the case during last year’s postseason, the Florida Panthers have had a number of players take turns in the spotlight. None more than coach Paul Maurice.

Maurice’s press conferences — whether it is following a practice, before and after a game, or at the team’s hotel — have become must-attend events not only for the media who have covered the team throughout the year, but for reporters both locally and nationally who drop in for the playoffs.

The pressers are part stand up, part post-grad lecture on the sport of hockey.

And, Maurice has been like this since the day he arrived in South Florida almost two years ago.

Win or lose, salty or not, Maurice is good about not only giving information to the press, but entertaining those at home as well.

His press conferences on YouTube consistently outpace other team content by at least a 4-to-1 margin.

In Friday night’s 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers, Maurice had to do his NHL-mandated in-game interview to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan.

Florida was trailing 1-0 at the time and, just moments before, Dmitry Kulikov had been sent to the box for a hard charging hit on Alex Wennberg at center ice.

Kaplan asked Maurice about the physicality of the game to that point. The Florida coach grinned.

“No one has been arrested yet,’’ he said.

Maurice has been good about being able to lighten the mood following a loss and, more often, downplaying things after a win.

When the Panthers failed to sweep the Maple Leafs in the second round of last year’s playoffs by losing Game 4 at home, Maurice was quick to jump on a vibe that Florida had somehow opened the door for Toronto to charge back and take the series.

Maurice made a reference to the Will Ferrell classic ‘Semi-Pro,’ and basically called the Toronto media homers.

“Try and hide your glee” he said to one reporter he has known for years. Maurice also insinuated that to the Boston media in the second round.

“We lost a game today,” Maurice said in a chipper press conference following that Toronto Game 4. It sort of mirrored his attitude following Friday night’s loss.

“That happens in the playoffs. I think everyone has, so far. We get to play the next one. I think we’re OK with that.”

This postseason has been chockfull of Maurice beauties.

Before Florida opened against Tampa Bay, Maurice called the postseason the best time of the year.

Colorfully.

“It’s all the good stuff. It’s like, you don’t have to eat your vegetables. It’s just the good stuff that you want,’’ he continued.

“I like vegetables, but you know what I am talking about. It’s Christmas morning. It’s the best. Motivating a team? ‘How am I going to get these guys going tonight?’ Well, that’s done. Now, I just have to make sure I keep them all flying in the same direction. … Now, you have some fun.’’

When he was caught on camera dressing down his team during a break in the action, Maurice said “I wasn’t mad, I understood what they were going through. I just thought they needed some profanity in their life. And I brought some. I don’t excel in a lot of things in life, but F- me, I am good at that.”

Paul Maurice Goes Off On the Florida Panthers. It Worked.

Following a Game 4 loss to the Lightning, the first thing Maurice did was complain about how warm it was in the Tampa press room. That was likely a ploy to loosen the room up following a defeat.

Friday night may have been that as well.

When asked what he thought about Barclay Goodrow’s game-winning goal, Maurice said he had not seen it because his video coach had been lost in the “maze” of the event level of Madison Square Garden.

He also made reference to having to communicate by telegram, referring to an older reporter that he “knew what I was talking about.’’

The back-and-forth drew laughs — as it was probably designed to do.

“The video guy is three zip codes away from our locker room,’’ Maurice said of Myles Fee and John Congemi. “I haven’t seen my video guy. I’m not sure he still works for us.”

On Saturday morning, Maurice spoke at the team hotel before the team headed home.

He was asked about how he had changed as a coach, and that probably includes his approach to the media.

Last year, Maurice talked to the Miami Herald about his youngest son Jake who is the communications director and does play-by-play for the ECHL Florida Everblades.

Maurice said he deals with the media differently knowing his son is part of the media — and he knows, as a father, he would not like hearing a grumpy coach give it to his kid in a press scrum.

“The way I approached this job in the last two years has changed, for sure,” Maurice said Saturday morning. “I come off the ice during the regular season mad sometimes. I’ve had a few snarky press conferences where I’m being a jerk, but that’s just the mood that I was in at the time. It’s true.

“But for the most part, none of you played, so it’s not your fault if we lose. You really didn’t help us if we win. So I’m not really mad at any of you when I come in here. If you take a shot at me, OK. That’s your job, that’s part of it.”

The Panthers certainly take their cues from their coach who, despite his feisty reputation, is usually pretty cool and calm behind the bench.

His team plays that way as well.

There never seems to be much panic in how the Panthers play.

The Panthers may be a lot of things, but uptight they are not.

“He’s awesome, he has some good one-liners,’’ Matthew Tkachuk told Scott Van Pelt on ESPN following Game 1 on Wednesday. “You hear some stuff on TV, but a couple of the ones that aren’t on TV shouldn’t be on TV. But they make us laugh. There’s some good ones.”

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
FLORIDA PANTHERS (ATL1) V. NEW YORK RANGERS (MET1)

Best-of-7 Series Tied 1-1

GAME 3
  • When: Sunday, 3 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • National TV: ABC
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Series Schedule — Game 1: Florida 3, @New York 0; Game 2: @New York 2, Florida 1 OT; Game 3: New York at Florida, Sunday 3 (ABC); Game 4: New York at Florida, Tuesday 8 (ESPN): Game 5: Florida at New York, Thursday 8 (ESPN); Game 6*: New York at Florida, Saturday June 1, 8 (ABC); Game 7*: Florida at New York, Monday June 3, 8 (ESPN). (*) — If Necessary.
  • How They Got Here: Florida d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2; Rangers d. Washington 4-0, Carolina 4-2.
  • Last Season vs. Rangers — Regular Season: Rangers won 3-0
  • This Season (Panthers Won 2-1) — At Florida: Panthers 4 Rangers 3 (Dec. 29). At MSG: Panthers 4, Rangers 2 (March 4); Rangers 4, Panthers 3 OT (March 23).
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Rangers lead 61-34-8, 6 ties
  • Postseason History: Rangers Lead 1-0 (1997 1st)

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