Panthers' Maurice reunites with Oilers' Knoblauch ahead of Stanley Cup Final

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SUNRISE, Fla.— It’s almost 10 years ago now, but Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice certainly remembers interviewing Kris Knoblauch for an NHL assistant’s job on his then Winnipeg Jets staff, like it was only yesterday.

“I remember that. I didn’t think it (story) was going to come out. Kris and Jamie Kompon were the 16th and 17th guys I talked to,” recalled Maurice, who wound up choosing Kompon, now on his Panthers’ staff, but passed on the current Edmonton Oilers bench boss who was then coaching junior in Erie.

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“I sat down with Kris, who was then a young guy. I was very high on him. But I said ‘this guy is going to be a head coach.’ I thought the best thing for Kris was to stay a head coach somewhere. That’s why I didn’t hire him (for the Jets),” said Maurice.

“I didn’t feel there was a succession plan most likely in Winnipeg. So he goes back to junior and a few years later he calls me. He’s getting another opportunity in the NHL for an assistant coaching job in Philadelphia. He was right, I was wrong,” he said.

“My advice to Kris (after the first interview) was it’s (head job NHL) is coming for you. Looking back, in my case, I wasn’t ready to be a head coach (NHL in Hartford). I had just two years (Detroit Jr. Wings). I would have liked to have had five more years as a head coach (junior).“

Now, they’ll be on opposite sides in the Stanley Cup final. It’ll be game 131 in the playoffs for Maurice, game 19 for Knoblauch.

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