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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal perspective

From Stephen Brunt of the Globe & Mail:

What Martin gives you is a system, a sense of order, a chance to win most nights, even against more talented opposition.

What he doesn’t give you is anything to set hearts aflutter.

His hiring, then, offers a pretty clear sense of Gainey’s thinking right now, in a time of ownership uncertainty, entering a summer of widespread free agency on his roster, still dealing with intimations of off-ice scandal, coming off a season that began with great promise and ended with a coach firing and a first round playoff sweep.

Read Brunt’s entire article here.

More analysis comes from Robert at Eyes on the Prize:

While he most definitely fills the requirement for an experienced bench boss , there are both upsides and downsides to this hiring as I see it.

First and foremost, Martin does not seem to suit the Canadiens prefered style of exciting offensive hockey. Perhaps this is asign that the Canadiens will not have the same look next season due to their myriad free agency issues.

Then again, maybe they will be targeting Jay Bowmeester?

Additionally, Martin, who has a reputation as a solid teacher, is reputed to be somewhat of a dry communicator, fitting right in with the mold of Gainey and Pierre Gauthier who hired him in Ottawa. Martin will be rejoining both Gauthier, and former Ottawa scouts Trevor Timmins and Frank Jay in the Habs organization.

Read Robert’s entire post here.

Well, there are certainly mixed feelings about this hire from Habs fans, and I understand that.  Martin has not won a Stanley Cup as a head coach, his name doesn’t exactly carry a ton of cachet and he is a defense-first coach.  Those issues aside, he is still very accomplished. 

Martin coaches defense-first and has always said that once his players have taken care of their defensive responsiblites and have the puck in-hand (or on stick) that they can do what they please with it.  My thinking behind this, is that the Habs were playing a style that saw too many players bail out on defensive responsibilities–for whatever reason.  Martin, a good coach for young players, communicates his message well and has had success communicating that defense-first message.  Clearly Gainey wasn’t going to stay behind the bench and he must believe that Martin has a better chance of getting in the heads of the team’s young players than some of the other candidates he considered.  Sure Martin’s style may not be exciting, but wins count over excitement don’t they?

In terms of his personal excitement level, well, he is lacking in that regard.  But who really cares?  Maybe the media does, but that obviously wouldn’t affect Bob Gainey’s thinking.  In reality, Gainey wanted a coach that was fairly mundane.  Considering the intense off-ice and on-ice issues from last season, quiet is probably exactly that Gainey was looking for.  So, in that respect, Gainey has his man.

Whether Martin can take the Habs to the next level is another story.  But, as I say all the time, that’s why they play the games.