Desperation and desire: Panthers’ Paul Maurice sees two energy sources in Game 4 against Oilers

Florida Panthers Paul Maurice
Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
There are two teams set to play an NHL hockey game tonight in what could be each of their last of the season.
For one, they have a chance to lift the Stanley Cup, and for the other, they have a chance to start to rewrite the story of a 3-0 series lead.
Those teams, the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers, bring with them different things to feed off of.
“For me, and I’m not the coach of the Oilers, but there’s kind of two energy sources in the building tonight,” said Maurice. “One’s desperation, and the other is desire, I guess for lack of a word.
“Both are really powerful sources of energy, and we’re both kind of going to try and harness those things. We want to be mindful of harnessing it, but we’ll be very open about what’s different about today. And then our challenge would be not have that translate into the hockey. Harness the energy? Yeah, this game is different than any other game they played this year. We’ll deal with that.”
Maurice himself is someone who has been chasing after the Stanley Cup for a long, long time. A native of Sault St. Marie, Ont., the 57-year-old got his start behind a bench in 1987-88 with the OHL’s Windsor Compuware Spitfires, breaking into the NHL in 1995 with the Hartford Whalers.
Between then and now, he’s run the bench in Carolina, Toronto, Winnipeg and now the Panthers, and come close to where he is now twice: first in 2002 with the Hurricanes, and last year with Florida.
Similarly, he’s got players on his team that have been looking for this for years. Players like Sasha Barkov, drafted second overall in 2013, and Aaron Ekblad first overall a year later, have helped build to where they are.
But Maurice said Saturday that there is an element of wanting to win for them, they also want to win it for everyone else.
“There would be no difference in that room in terms of value of it between the two of them,” he said. “What I mean by that is ‘we really want to win it for Barky, but not for Lundy (Anton Lundell), because he hasn’t been here that long.’
“There really isn’t a lot of time spent on that idea, or talked about ever. They want it for themselves, they want it for each other. It’s the collective, they want it for the group.”
For as long as Maurice has been chasing a Stanley Cup in the NHL, his desire for it started like so many others: as a kid, and around the age of five years old.
He spoke about how growing up, the television had three channels: “a French channel, there was WKBD out of Detroit, and then we got CBC.”
“Saturday night for us, if we didn’t play hockey, my parents would take us skating, my mom would make a pot of spaghetti or chilli, and we’d watch hockey,” he said. “I was still maybe a little bit young to appreciate those early years, but when I hit my mid-teens, it was the Edmonton Oilers. They’re in their prime.
“Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey had played for the Soo Greyhounds, which was my hometown, and they used to play street hockey sometimes at the tennis courts across the street from my house. So that was where it became the dream. You watch Lanny McDonald win, everybody was cheering for that. I didn’t necessarily have a team, you’re cheering for the team that’s winning. Lanny McDonald, that’s a big deal in our house. All of the Edmonton Stanley Cups, I probably didn’t see the Islanders enough to fully appreciate that run, I would’ve been too young and it wouldn’t have made it on WKBD.”
Maurice’s Panthers and the Oilers will take to the ice at Rogers Place for a 6 p.m. start Saturday night.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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