Sports Outside the Beltway

Montreal Canadiens hire Jacques Martin to be next head coach

He is currently the Florida Panthers General Manager. From the Sun-Sentinel-

Panthers’ general manager Jacques Martin is leaving to become head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

The Canadiens have scheduled a 2 p.m. press conference to introduce Martin.

Martin and Panthers’ owner Alan Cohen couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. This will be the third head coaching job for Martin, 56, who just finished his third season as the Panthers’ GM. Martin coached the team for three seasons before Cohen asked him to relinquish those duties last summer after the team again failed to reach the postseason.

Cohen asked Martin to stay on as GM, though, and Martin signed a contract, reportedly for four years. Before joining the Panthers, Martin spent eight-plus seasons as coach of the Ottawa Senators, leading them to the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons. He was fired after the 2003-04 season after another disappointing playoff exit.

The Canadiens desired Martin for several reasons. Along with being a French speaker, Martin is a defensive-minded coach, which fits the philosophy of the organization and its personnel. Martin also has extensive coaching experience and a strong relationship with Canadiens GM Bob Gainey.

Before I get to anything else, I’m a little disappointed by the Sun-Sentinel’s Steve Gorten not knowing this is Martin’s 4th head coaching job, rather than his third. He led the St. Louis Blues for two years back in the 1980′s. In general Groten does the best job of any South Florida sports reporter of covering the Panthers.

I think Martin will fit in well at Montreal. His tenure in Florida was hamstrung from the beginning by the team’s front office. Alan Cohen has clearly shown he isn’t interested in building a contending hockey team then or now. As can be seen by the Jay Bouwmeester situation. The Panthers are about to lose the best defensemen in the NHL to free agency. Three years ago the team traded the league’s best goalie Roberto Luongo for garbage.

Bottom line on Jacques Martin- I wish him well in Montreal but suggest he don’t look too much at some of the advertising along the walls of the Bell Centre.

Assistant Florida GM Randy Sexton is likely to be Martin’s successor. The Panthers, who have many free agents this off season, are likely to be a middle of the road hockey team at best in 2009-10.

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