Kirk Muller will return to the Montreal Canadiens as the team’s new associate coach.
The decision was announced Thursday, just one day after it was reported that Muller had turned down the St. Louis Blues’ one-year offer to return there as an assistant coach.
Muller had some of his greatest success as a player with the Canadiens. He was a former team captain and won the Stanley Cup with the group in 1993. This was the last Cup championship by a Canadian franchise. He was also an assistant coach with the Canadiens from 2006-11.
He left Montreal for the 2011-12 season pursue a head coaching job with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. He was then quickly hired early in the year by the Carolina Hurricanes after the team fired Paul Maurice. With the Hurricanes Muller went 80-80-27 before being fired.
He spent the last two seasons as an assistant with the Blues.
“We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Kirk Muller, and are extremely happy about his desire to return to the Canadiens’ organization. Kirk brings a great deal of experience, determination and leadership, and I have no doubt that these qualities will be essential for our coaching staff. Kirk has a thorough knowledge of the Montreal market, he enjoyed success as a player, and as captain of the Canadiens, and these assets will certainly contribute to the success of our team, ” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement.
Habs Eyes on the Prize asks whether Muller could be the in-house favorite for the head coaching job if Michel Therrien falters early next year.
As the lone shakeup following last year's abysmal result, you also have to wonder if he'd be in the running to take over the big job should the team falter again next year. That is purely speculative, but he has been a head coach in the NHL before, so he's got the experience, as well as an understanding of the Montreal hockey market.
Last season the Canadiens missed the playoffs at 38-38-6 after starting the year an NHL record 9-0-0.
The team decided to bring back coach Michel Therrien, noting that a lot of the problems last season could be heaped on a long-term injury to coach Carey Price. But really after the troubles from last year one would expect that a lot of personnel are on a short leash, Therrien included.
“Nobody is walking away with a clean slate, but we have to break down in pieces during the season,” Bergevin said at the team’s end-of-season news conference. “We’re not happy and it’s my job to address the team moving forward, but Michel will be behind the bench opening night.”
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