Hey, Mo!

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Paul Maurice remembers the night in Greensboro when the referees warned the Carolina Hurricanes coach to "watch your language."

The officials were concerned that Maurice's voice might echo off the sea of empty seats that dominated the cavernous Coliseum.

Years later, such fan apathy is a thing of the past for Maurice.

As the new head coach of the Maple Leafs, his every move is being monitored on a daily basis.

Several weeks ago, Maurice was walking through a Windsor mall when a man barked at him from a nearby wireless store.

"I hadn't even been hired for the Leafs job yet and this guy is yelling out about the leadership of the team," he said.

Welcome to life in this blue-and-white fishbowl, Paul.

In honour of the 26th coach in Leafs history, here are 26 things you might not have known about Paul Maurice:

26 - Kitchener Rangers coach Peter DeBoer is one of Maurice's closest friends and a former roommate. The two were teammates with the Windsor Spitfires and later would coach together with the Ontario Hockey League-champion Detroit Jr.Red Wings.

25 - He was picked dead last -- 252nd overall -- in the 1985 NHL entry draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.

24 - After getting the Leafs job this week, Maurice talked to his three children about how the entire family is now in the spotlight. "I'm not sure you can really completely prepare them for something like this," he said.

23 - Given the choice to attend any non-hockey sporting event, Maurice one day would like to go to the Kentucky Derby.

22 - Maurice's love of rock and roll should endear him to Leafs P.A. announcer Andy Frost, the long-time host of Q-107's Psychedelic Sunday. An avid Led Zeppelin afficionado, Maurice claims his ears once were left ringing for three days after attending a Ted Nugent concert in his native Sault St. Marie.

21 - As an overage skater with the Spits, Maurice was about to lose his roster spot after the St. Louis Blues sent hotshot goalie Pat Jablonski down to Windsor. When offered the opportunity to remain with the team as an assistant coach, he jumped at it. And with that, a coaching career was born.

20 - During his lengthy stint behind bench of the Carolina Hurricanes, he often looked out for the best interests of the visiting media from the north. "It's a $50 fine for showing up to the game with a sunburn," Maurice once told Toronto scribes during a trip to Raleigh.

19 - His own sister-in-law, an avid Maple Leafs fan, cheered against Maurice's Carolina Hurricanes during the 2002 playoff series against Toronto.

18 - He holds the Hartford Whaler/Carolina Hurricane franchise coaching marks for regular season wins (268), games coached (674), playoff wins (17) and playoff games coached (35).

17 - Maurice served a stint as captain of the Spitfires. "I could sense his leadership qualities the first time I walked into that Windsor dressing room as a 17-year-old kid," DeBoer said.

16 - One of the lowest moments in his coaching career came in May of 1999 when he was informed of the tragic death of defenceman Steve Chiasson, whose vehicle crashed while returning home from a team function. "Steve was one of the three or four toughest players I've ever seen," Maurice said.

15 - He has lost count of how many times he was fired by the media during his nine-year run in Hartford/Carolina. "Everybody should have to live with a noose a little bit," he quipped.

14 - After leading Carolina to the 2002 Stanley Cup final, he took just 30 seconds to accept a contract extension from the Hurricanes.

13 - Several years ago, he skated a group of 'Canes so hard in practice that forward Craig MacDonald finally collapsed. "I wouldn't say I was hunky-dory with that," Jeff O'Neill said of that particular workout. "When a guy is passing out, that's too much."

12 - He once lost his patience with the shot clock operator at the RBC Center in Raleigh. "Listen, and this goes both ways, but there is some heavy drinking going on in the shot clock booth," Maurice claimed.

11 - Maurice was not impressed during his first visit to the Staples Center in L.A, home of the Kings. "The ice here is horse (bleep), but hey, it's a beautiful building," he said.

10 - Spent 18 years working for Jim Rutherford and Peter Karmanos, first as an assistant in junior, then 8 1/2 years as the head coach of the Hartford Whalers/Hurricanes.

9 - After recording his first NHL victory with the Whalers at the age of 28, ESPN said that Maurice, one of the youngest coaches in NHL history, was not available after the game because it was a school night.

8 - During the Canes' second-ever exhibition game, Maurice watched in horror as Stormy, the team's pig mascot, was almost asphyxiated from the fumes underneath the Zamboni's hood. As part of a pre-game ceremony, plans were for Stormy to jump out of the Zamboni when beckoned by a pro hawg caller.

7 - Rutherford calls his firing of Maurice midway through the 2003-04 season "my most difficult hockey decision."

6 - He is contemplating a Leafs coaching staff that features three assistants, not the normal two.

5 - A mutual interest in horse racing is shared by both the Maurices and the Fergusons. Maurice's wife, Mitch, has known John Ferguson Sr. for years. "John Sr. ran the race track in Windsor and my dad and my brother both raced standardbreds there," she said.

4 - He often has been told that he looks like Teemu Selanne.

3 - His family loves living in Oakville and was planning to remain there no matter where Maurice worked this season.

2 - Both he and ex-Leafs coach Pat Burns have in common. Both enjoy riding motorcycles. "Mine is more of a sports bike than a cruiser," Maurice said.

1 - He has no vision in the middle of his right eye after being struck by a puck at 17. His father lost an eye when hit by a shovel as a 5-year-old kid. His brother has been without the use of his right eye since birth. "(It's) just a table of one-eyed men looking at each other."


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