There is little doubt as to the kind of coach the Maple Leafs will meet in training camp if his name happens to be Paul Maurice.
A hard worker and communicator who demands the same ethic in his players, Maurice leaves no stone unturned as he prepares his players for each game and practice. Bates Battaglia, who has been under Maurice's tutelage this season with the Toronto Marlies, had his most productive seasons in the NHL with Maurice and the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I've seen him in the (NHL) and he is one of the best coaches I have ever had," Battaglia said. "If there is anybody who knows the game, it is him. You don't go into games with any questions as far as what you're up against."
Preparation such as that helped Maurice and the Hurricanes beat Pat Quinn and the Leafs in the 2002 playoffs.
"A lot of people did not expect a lot from us," Battaglia said. "We went into games knowing exactly what we needed to do. We did not have a ton of skill, but we did it with work."
Quinn has been chastised for failing to properly communicate with his players, but the same can not be said of Maurice. And at Maurice's practises, there is no idle time.
"To sum up Paul, just listen to how all the guys who were called up to the Leafs from the Marlies (raved) about him," former Hurricane and current Leaf Jeff O'Neill told the Sun's Mike Zeisberger. "He was just a real quality coach in Carolina. He was always in touch with his players in order to get a real pulse of the his team. Let's just say he runs a different ship than Pat."
Though he has been in the AHL this season, Maurice is said to have taken an NHL approach with the Marlies. The high-tempo practises, though strenuous, have been welcomed. The hard work that is expected in games is easier to accomplish after it has been stressed in workouts.
"It's a habit, for sure," Marlies defenceman Brendan Bell said. "You don't get tired in games."
Leadership always has been one of Maurice's hallmarks, a close friend said.
"He always has had that ability to lead," said Peter DeBoer, general manager and coach of the OHL's Kitchener Rangers. "There are no hidden agendas. He puts the suits on for the cameras, but the real Paul Maurice is a guy from Sault Ste. Marie who has small-town values and is a great family guy and father."