From Sportsnet (Hat tip to Eric McErlain):
Sportsnet has learned Jacques Martin has been negotiating a potential buy-out with the Florida Panthers and that the Montreal Canadiens are very interested in hiring him as their next head coach.
Sources say Martin has multiple years left on his contract, but is willing to leave some money on the table to take the Canadiens job.
Martin coached the Panthers for three seasons beginning in 2005, but enjoyed more success as the bench boss of the Ottawa Senators.
Read entire story here.
Well, if this is true, then you can put to bed the lack of French speaking coach behind the Habs’ bench. That aside, it seems to have some legs to it. Nick Kypreos seemed fairly conviced on Sportsnet last night that this was almost a done deal. If so, then I can’t say I am that surprised that Martin is out in Florida. He appeared to always be a coach sitting in a manager’s seat. The job he did in Florida was alright, as he made a great deal getting a good return on Olli Jokinen and has solidified the team’s defensive corps but his long-term signings at forward (Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton) left much to be desired. His team just could never get the offensive firepower necessary to compete with the top half of the Eastern Conference.
Sure the Panthers were very solid this season, but they still didn’t make the playoffs and now Jay Bouwmeester is almost assuredly on his way out. That is just under 30 minutes a night that needs to be filled on the blue line now. Just ask Kevin Lowe has easy that is to replace (see: Chris Pronger).
In terms of Montreal, the selection doesn’t totally make sense. How much different is he than coach Guy Carbonneau? I realize he has more experience, but they both preach defense. I guess the biggest reason Gainey may tap Martin is his ability to develop young players. There is a long list of forwards and defensemen that Martin has successfully developed (Wade Redden, Marian Hossa and Martin Havlat to name a few) over the years and Montreal has a number of players that need to be guided in the right direction–especially Carey Price.
So, if this coaching rumor is true, that puts one piece in place for the Habs prior to the draft in La Belle Province. However, there are many more pieces to fall in place before we start projecting the Habs’ 2009/2010 season.