WINNIPEG -- Claude Noel was fired as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday morning, but general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff revealed the axe began swinging on Tuesday night. Cheveldayoff told reporters at a press conference Sunday afternoon that he first contacted newly hired Jets head coach Paul Maurice on Tuesday after the team played poorly again, mustering only 14 shots in a 4-2 loss to the Lightning. "I ended up reaching out to Paul after the Tampa game, just to see if I was going to go in a direction like that if he had an interesta" said Cheveldayoff, who also dismissed assistant Perry Pearn. "At that point in time, it still wasnt something that I was ready to do, but (Saturday) night I went to ownership and talked to them about making the change." The Jets lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 on Saturday, giving up four goals in the first nine minutes of the second period. Fans booed the team off the ice. "Its not just the last two games, it is the consistency factor," Cheveldayoff said, adding the team kept taking a step forward and then two steps back to stay around .500. The club is 19-23-5 and 10 points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The loss also put the Jets on a season-worst five-game losing streak, matching the longest regulation-game losing skid since the team moved to Winnipeg from Atlanta prior to the 2011-2012 season. After getting the go-ahead from Jets owner Mark Chipman to fire Noel, Cheveldayoff said he called Maurice again and they reached a verbal agreement on a contract until the end of this season. "We dont have anything on paper, we have a handshake over the phone," Cheveldayoff said. "Hes flying in here (Sunday) night and going in that fashion. Again, hes very passionate about getting here. When we talked about what he would need, basically it was like, What time is the flight?" Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Maurice had been working as a TV analyst for TSN & NHL Network after spending the 2012-13 season as head coach of Magnitogorsk Metallurg of the Kontinental Hockey League. The club earned a 27-13-12 record and missed the playoffs. Maurice inherits a Jets team that has struggled in its third season in Winnipeg, thanks in part to inconsistent goaltending and defensive breakdowns. The 46-year-old has been behind the bench for 1,084 games as an NHL head coach. His first game leading the Jets will be Monday at MTS Centre against the Phoenix Coyotes. This will be the third franchise he has coached, after the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes and the Toronto Maple Leafs. He got the Hurricanes to the 2002 Stanley Cup final and made five total playoff appearances with Carolina. "Hiring Paul Maurice is something that we feel very good about as far as the opportunity that we have to hire an experienced National Hockey League coach to come in here and begin putting his stamp on the team, and also on the evaluation process that were all going to be going through," said Cheveldayoff, who was given a contract extension last September through the 2017-18 season. Hes never worked with Maurice, but the hockey world is small and his background checks produced good references. "There was one common theme; (hes) extremely professional, extremely prepared, extremely knowledgeable about the game and a guy that is very direct in one-on-one with his people and his players," Cheveldayoff said. Cheveldayoff, who called Noel a "special" and "caring" person, said he met with him and Pearn Sunday morning at MTS Centre to tell them theyd been let go. The GM says Noel was "very respectful" and theyll meet again in the coming days. Hired after the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg before the 2011-12 season, Noel went 80-79-18 during his tenure with the Jets. He had been given a one-year extension last June through the 2014-15 season. The team was scheduled to practice late Sunday morning at another local rink, but it was cancelled when Cheveldayoff drove there after the dismissals to give players the news. Captain Andrew Ladd and his teammates shouldered the blame for the coaching changes. "I think it always comes as a shock," Ladd said after the team meeting. "I dont think anyone expected it this morning so its not an easy day. Two good people lose their jobs. Ultimately, it came down to the performance of all the guys in here. Its tough for everyone." Forward Olli Jokinen, a veteran in his 16th NHL season, agreed the players should feel responsible Noel and Pearn had to pay the price for the teams shortcomings. "All of us should be embarrassed that were at the point we have to change the coach," he said. Maurices familiarity with a hockey-crazy market such as Toronto should bode well in Winnipeg, where players are heavily scrutinized by the media and criticized by fans who pack the sold-out MTS Centre. "This is a tough market to play," Jokinen said. "Any Canadian market you play, you know expectations are high. Youve got a lot of media attention, youve got 15,000 GMs watching the games and another couple hundred thousand at home. "So its a place, or any Canadian market, that you as a player you have to put all that aside and focus on doing your job the best you can. Thats all that you can do." He sensed, though, that players were getting easily frustrated and playing "a little bit scared, afraid of making the mistakes." Chevelydayoff, who said his own job "is still a work in progress," admitted he also bears some responsibility for the players he gave Noel to work with. "Ive sat back over the course of 24 hours or whatever and sit there and say, Can I do something else? What else can I do?" he said. "But what I have to be cognizant of is that I dont do something that pushes the franchise backwards from an asset standpoint. Again, this is not without responsibility on my side here, too." The players acknowledged theyll be auditioning for their jobs, although none have played for Maurice. Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, who moved to right wing for the game against the Blue Jackets, denied Noels message was getting old, but said a new guy in charge might help the team. "I think so," Byfuglien said. "Just someone coming in and no one really knowing him, it could be good for us. "Just getting a new face, a different guy with different attitudes, see how it goes." Retired former Hurricanes goaltender Kevin Weekes, now an analyst on Hockey Night in Canada, gave a glowing endorsement for Maurice to a Canadian Press reporter. "In my entire career, he was the best coach that I played for, both technically, his ability to relate to players, how he treated people, his preparation, you name it." Weekes said. "He was the best coach I played for in the National Hockey League. I played for some good ones, Ive been around a lot of really good people, but hands-down hes the best coach I played for." Cheveldayoff couldnt say whether other changes are on the horizon for the Jets, but he thinks hiring Maurice is a step in the right direction. "We believe that we are underachieving," Cheveldayoff said. "Now its up to the players in some respects to show what theyre all about. "But at the end of the day, we have to take a hard, long look at what other steps there are maybe to move forward." cheap nfl jerseys
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.J. -- Ahmad Bradshaw sat on the practice field at the New York Giants headquarters and had a trainer peel layers of protective padding off his right foot before getting up and bouncing around on his feet. LONDON -- Manchester City turned the Premier League into what looks like a two-horse race Sunday with a dramatic 3-2 win over Tottenham, leaving Manchester United its only likely rival for the English title. Third-place Tottenham fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Etihad Stadium, but Jermain Defoe missed an injury-time chance for the visitors and Mario Balotelli won the game for City with a penalty he had earned himself. Fouled by Tottenham captain Ledley King, the Italy striker took a step, paused and shot calmly past goalkeeper Brad Friedel to give City an 11th win from 11 home matches in this seasons Premier League. City is eight points clear of Spurs but defending champion United is still only three behind after a 2-1 win at Arsenal. Antonio Valencia gave his best impression of former United great Cristiano Ronaldo to score Uniteds first goal and set up the winner over an Arsenal side that slipped 18 points behind City and five behind the the final Champions League qualifying berth. "We are still behind City but we have to keep winning games," United captain Patrice Evra said. That isnt a problem for City, which has now scored 66 goals from 22 matches, one more than it managed in the whole of last season. But Balotelli was fortunate to still be on the field to score after referee Howard Webb missed an apparent stamp by the already-booked striker on the head of grounded Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker. "Shouldnt have been on the pitch," Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said. "He kicked Scott Parker in the head. He does it a lot. He backheeled him in the face and cut his head. No one can make excuses that he didnt do it. "Anyone can see he did do it." The game came to life in the 56th with a flurry of four goals in 10 minutes. David Silva split the visiting defence with a pass into Samir Nasris feet, leaving the France midfielder to rifle a rising shot past Friedel from about 12 metres (yards). Joleon Lescott then bundled the ball across the line from close range following a cross from Nasri. But Defoe got a goal back within a minute with a shot into an unguarded net ffrom a narrow angle and it was 2-2 five minutes after that, Bale equalizing with a spectacular left-foot shot from a central position that curled away from diving goalkeeper Joe Hart and into the top right corner.dddddddddddd. Spurs could have closed to within two points of City had Defoe managed to knock in Gareth Bales low injury-time pass across goal, but the England striker could only poke the ball past the far post at full stretch. Ecuador winger Valencia headed United into the lead in first-half injury time and darted into the area with nine minutes left to present Danny Welbeck with the chance to smash a winner past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. Robin van Persies 71st-minute equalizer -- his 19th league goal of the season -- counted for little. "We created an amazing amount of chances and to only score two is a bit disappointing," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "We should have rammed home our advantage in the first half. "We were really adventurous, positive and had a great belief in ourselves." Arsenal is five points behind fourth-place Chelsea -- which drew 0-0 at Norwich on Saturday -- and 18 behind City. Home fans jeered manager Arsene Wengers decision to substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with the score at 1-1, and many left after watching the young wingers replacement -- Andrey Arshavin -- decide not to challenge Valencia as he broke forward to set up the winning goal. "I can understand that fans are upset about the substitution, especially when it doesnt work," Wenger said. Wenger also left fan favourite Thierry Henry out of the squad, and the on-loan New York Red Bulls striker watched from the stands while Ryan Giggs showed the difference a veteran can make to big games when he floated in the left-wing cross for Valencias opener. Newcastle trails Arsenal on goal difference after Clint Dempseys hat trick gave Fulham a 5-2 win over the Magpies on Saturday, when Aston Villa won 3-2 at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Bolton beat Liverpool 3-1, Queens Park Rangers defeated Wigan 3-1, West Bromwich Albion downed Stoke 2-1 and Sunderland won 2-0 over Swansea. ' ' '