Panthers GM: Maurice was ideal fit to become new coach

Joel Auerbach / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito said Thursday that bringing in the veteran bench boss Paul Maurice was a no-brainer.

"When we spoke to Paul Maurice, it was overwhelming that this was the fit," Zito said during the coach's introductory press conference, according to team reporter Jameson Olive.

Maurice takes over behind the bench for Jack Adams Award finalist Andrew Brunette, who replaced Joel Quenneville on an interim basis early this past season and guided the Panthers to the Presidents' Trophy.

Brunette's future with the franchise is unclear, but Florida is expected to offer him a significant role to stay with the team, according to Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli.

Maurice stepped down as the Winnipeg Jets' head coach in December after nine seasons, saying the club needed a new voice. The 55-year-old said Thursday that he jumped at the opportunity to return to work with the Panthers.

"There's a number of very powerful teams in this league, and Florida is one of them," Maurice said.

He added: "That fit is hard to define, but when you're ready to coach a game five minutes after meeting Bill, you want to be a part of that."

Maurice has also coached the then-Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Toronto Maple Leafs over his 24-year career. He ranks fourth all-time in games coached (1,684) and seventh in wins (775).

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Panthers GM: Maurice was ideal fit to become new coach
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