WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Claude Noel has been fired as coach by the Winnipeg Jets and replaced with Paul Maurice.
Noel was fired amid a five-game losing streak that dropped the Jets to 19-23-5 and 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Noel, hired after the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg before the 2011-12 season, went 80-79-18 during his tenure with the Jets.
"I think it always comes as a shock," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said at a local rink after Jets' practice was cancelled in the wake of the news. Assistant coach Perry Pearn was also fired along with Noel.
Maurice inherits a team that has struggled in its third season in Winnipeg thanks in part to inadequate goaltending and defensive breakdowns. The 46-year-old has been behind the bench as an NHL head coach for 1,084 games.
"I don't think anyone expected it this morning so it's not an easy day," Ladd said. "Two good people lose their job. Ultimately, it came down to the performance of all the guys in here. It's tough for everyone."
Noel was fired after the Jets lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 on Saturday in a game in which Ladd said he played "awful" and the fans booed the players off the ice.
The loss put Winnipeg on a season-worst five-game losing streak that dropped them to 19-23-5 and 10 points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Maurice and Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff agreed to the terms of the new head coach's contract over the phone. He will sign the actual deal when he arrives in Winnipeg.