Why did the Penguins hire Jacques Martin?

Jacques Martin has coached 1,294 games in the NHL, making the playoffs in 12 of his 17 seasons. His previous coaching gig ended in 2011, when the Montreal Canadiens fired him after two-plus seasons.

So Jacques Martin getting an assistant coaching gig at this stage of his career is a bit like a former CEO applying to be night manager at Burger King.

That said, the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t your typical Burger King, especially this season. They hired Martin to assist Dan Bylsma on Friday, joining Tony Granato – another former NHL head coach – and Todd Reirden on the Pens’ bench.

From the Penguins:

“Jacques is a highly-respected and accomplished coach who will be a tremendous addition to our staff,” Shero said. “He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our organization because of his extensive background as a head coach and an assistant.”

“I know we’re all going to benefit from having Jacques Martin on our staff,” Bylsma said. “Jacques and I have spent a great deal of time over the last few weeks discussing this possibility. It will be great to have another voice, another perspective – especially from a man of Jacque’s experience. We’re all looking forward for getting together as a staff and preparing for the coming season.”

Anytime a coach of Martin’s stature is added to a team’s coaching staff, some red flags are raised, especially when that staff failed to get a high-priced team to the Stanley Cup Final last season.

But let’s assume this isn’t a reason for Bylsma to crane his neck to see Martin over his shoulder.

GM Ray Shero has a relationship with Martin going back to their days in Ottawa. He’s also fiercely loyal to Bylsma. It could be that he sees Martin for what he claims he is in that press release: a veteran voice that can benefit the entire organization. And, perhaps, a voice that could command some respect if things go sideways in the playoffs.

But also keep in mind that Shero helped hire Bylsma for another gig this summer: U.S. Olympic team head coach.

Lord knows Bylsma, who has never coached internationally, could use a steady hand to help with the Penguins while he preps for Sochi.

And since his GM is also part of the USA Hockey brain-trust … well, would you look at that? Jacques Martin was hired to assist Bylsma this season. U-S-A!

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