Congratulations are in order for the Montreal Canadiens and the Florida Panthers today, upon hearing that Jacques Martin will leave Florida's GM position to become the next head coach of the Canadiens. The press conference is at 2 p.m.
For the Habs, Martin is exponentially better as a head coach than he is as a talent evaluator. He's someone who has proven he can lead talented rosters to near the top of the conference (though not exactly postseason glory), and if he can figure out how to whip these underachievers into playing his system, it's good fit. (That's a Wellwood-sized "if," but nonetheless.) Considering Montreal's rigid standards for coaching candidates -- marquee value, bilingual, a passable ability to interact with and/or battle the Canadian media -- Martin's as solid a choice as was available. Four Habs Fans doesn't seem all that upset; wonder what the rest of the Habs fans think.
For the Florida Panthers, this frees up the general manager's position for someone who can actually manage, generally.
Owner Alan Cohen had confidence in Martin and the direction of the franchise -- giving then-also-GM Martin a four-year contract after being relieved of his head coaching duties in 2008 -- but he may have been the only one. The fate of free-agent defenseman Jay Bouwmeester(notes) is one of a few dozen questions facing the Panthers this summer, and the thought of Martin addressing them was less than inspiring. The best move he made in the last year, hiring Coach Pete DeBoer, came about because the Ottawa Senators didn't meet his demands. He certainly didn't address the team's paper-thin offense at the trade deadline, despite being in a playoff race.
Randy Sexton, Florida's current assistant general manager, could be a candidate for the main job and could at least run things on an interim basis as the draft is coming up later this month in Montreal.
Joe Nieuwendyk(notes), who retired as a Florida player in 2006, would have been a prime candidate to replace Martin in the front office, but Florida's timing was not right. Nieuwendyk is being formally introduced as the new GM in Dallas on Monday. Former Florida assistant general manager Chuck Fletcher also recently took the GM job in Minnesota.
We officially endorse the idea of Jay Feaster coming to Florida to be general manager and compete against the Tampa Bay Lightning ...