August 11, 2011
Andrei Kostitsyn(notes) averaged 15 minutes and 53 seconds of ice time last season for the Montreal Canadiens over 81 games, tying him for fifth among forwards with Max Pacioretty(notes). He didn't play on the penalty kill and averaged 2:16 per game on the power play.
All of this indicates that Kostitsyn was used by Coach Jacques Martin with some frequency. But Kostitsyn's problem isn't the "when" but the "where" in his ice time.
The Brothers Kostitsyn were interviewed by Alexander Vankovich of Goals By (quick and dirty translation here), and Andrei was candid about how his coach's decisions, and lack of compassion, led to Kostitsyn's struggles last season. (Struggles being a relative term, as Kostitsyn matched his goals- and points-per-game totals from the previous season.)
"In summary, Kostitsyn said the reason last season was so inconsistent for him was because Martin's use of him was inconsistent as well, which is a fair assessment. He said it's harder to produce when playing on the third or fourth line, which is true. He also said he tried to speak to Martin about it, but that the coach didn't care."
Strange, as Jacques Martin exudes such a teddy bear vibe …
According to Dobber Hockey's line combinations tracker, Kostitsyn played nearly 23-percent of the time on the Montreal second line with Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec(notes); nearly 10-percent of the time with Plekanec and Brian Gionta(notes).
In fact, that majority of his time appeared to be spent with at least one of Plekanec, Gionta, Cammalleri or Scott Gomez(notes) on his line. But it's also clear he played on a dozen different line combos, which can obviously hinder a player's ability to find a groove with linemates.
As for how this could affect next season, which is Kostitsyn's walk year, Basu writes:
"I think if you asked most of the players on the team they would also have the impression that Martin doesn't care, because it does not appear as though he is really a player's coach.
"That's what made Kirk Muller's role so important, because he was the buddy coach, the one players can go to with grievances and the one who kept track of the pulse in the room. That's what Randy Cunneyworth will have to do this upcoming season."
Muller, one of the more noticeable assistant coaches in the NHL on Martin's bench, left the Habs to take a head coaching job with the Milwaukee Admirals, the Nashville Predators' AHL affiliate.
... OK, complicates them further than complaining about your role on the team in the offseason likely complicates them.