Maurice not about to rush things

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Paul Maurice has been watching with keen interest as his former NHL club inches toward the Stanley Cup. But much of his attention has been focused on his new employer.

Maurice was hired as the 26th coach in Maple Leafs history four weeks ago and has spent the time since getting to know the team he inherited and what he plans to do with it.

"We're not going in and throwing everything out and starting over," Maurice, an ex-coach of the Cup finalist Carolina Hurricanes, said. "We're going to take as many of the good things as possible and add to them. This team and these players and Pat Quinn did some really fine things.

"(But) we have challenges coming because we are going to have fairly major systematic changes in our game. We have a 20-21 day training camp (in September), and the big bulk of work for me between now and when camp starts is getting those 21 days right."

Maurice has started to talk to some players but will get more in-depth with them in August. He remains in no hurry to hire assistant coaches.

Maurice said he has been devising different forechecking systems and an approach that will see, he hopes, improved puck movement through the neutral zone. Numerous times last season Quinn lamented the Leafs' inability or unwillingness to finish checks and there was little cohesion between the players in the middle of the ice.

Maurice, who yesterday attended the Ontario Hockey League awards at the Hockey Hall of Fame to present the coach of the year award to Dave Barr of the Guelph Storm, likes the fact the Leafs power play was second in the league. But he finds the part about the Leafs being 27th in goals while playing five-on-five distressing. More success in that area will come from a wiser defensive approach.

Maurice wants defenceman Bryan McCabe, whose contract status is up in the air, to be part of the club.

"He has been a great player for this team and I am sure things will work out as they are supposed to,"Maurice said.

And about those Hurricanes, who Maurice coached to the Cup final in 2002?

"What I am hoping for now is the organization will get the respect it deserves," Maurice said. "Rod Brind'Amour, above all players I have coached, you would like to see his name on the Stanley Cup because you would use his name on what it takes to win. He couldn't have worked harder or cared more."


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