Not A Great Beginning For Coach Martin

So far, Jacques Martin hasn’t exactly had raving success as new coach of the Montreal Canadiens. So the question is, is he the right man for the job?

It was certainly important to find a French-Canadian coach, or at least one who is perfectly bilingual. The Montreal French media in particular wouldn’t have accepted anything less, and a non-French-speaking anglophone probably would have been run out of town. And I’m a big supporter of Bob Gainey, and I feel he knows what he’s doing. It’s a new team, after all. This could take some time to come together.

But it’s been disastrous so far with Martin behind the bench. Giving hell to Sergei Kostitsyn in a closed practice is one thing. Giving hell to Kostitsyn with the media there, which in turn was shown for all to see, is another. Some players need to be treated with kid gloves. Maybe Kostitsyn’s one of them, and maybe Martin was wrong to go about it this way.

Playing with Carey Price’s headspace by starting Jaroslav Halak in only game three in Calgary, after Price had played well against Toronto and Buffalo. Price then proceeded to implode the next night in Vancouver.

I’m under the impression Martin’s not there to make friends, just to coach, and that’s great. I don’t mind that. You can’t be pals with the players when you’re the boss. Scotty Bowman wasn’t exactly Mr. Popularity either.

I also know what you’re thinking. It’s only game seven. It’s a new team and will take time. We’ve been hit by injuries, including our best player, Andrei Markov. There’s many reasons why it’s not time yet to look at the coach. But I am because I’m an impatient man. When the team’s near the bottom, down in Leafs’ territory, it’s a bad thing.

I have a friend who knew Martin on and off the ice in Ottawa, and he questions the hiring of Martin in Montreal. Without going into further details, he simply thinks the track record isn’t great, especially come playoff time.

This is Martin’s playoff record and you be the judge. And no, it’s not that flattering. But even that may not mean a thing because we have to make the playoffs first.

1986-87  – lost in first round
1987-88 – lost in 2nd round
1995-96 – missed playoffs
1996-97 – lost in first round
1997-98 – lost in 2nd round
1998-99 – lost in first round
1999-2000 lost in first round
2000-2001 lost in first round
2001-2002 lost in first round
2002-2003 lost in Conference final
2003-2004 lost in first round
2005-2006 missed playoffs
2006-2007 missed playoffs
2007-2008 missed playoffs

20 thoughts on “Not A Great Beginning For Coach Martin”

  1. Hilarious. Seven games into the season, and the coach is already being called into question. Must be Montreal, I guess.

    And it’s funny, too, I thought the last few games showed that Martin was having the Habs do exactly what the Habs needed to be doing: tightening up defensively, becoming much better 5-on-5 than any Habs team in recent history, outplaying teams for long stretches, and not relying purely on goaltending and special team.

    Record notwithstanding, Martin definitely has the team in the right direction.

    A 5-game losing streak that’s mostly the result of an inability to finish (because the team isn’t playing nearly poorly enough to be riding a 5-game L streak) doesn’t change the fact that the Habs are carrying the play a lot more than they did under previous coaches, even the vaunted 07-08 Habs that were very much the result of an unearthly power play and the emergence of Plekanec and Kostitsyn as 5-on-5 performers.

    By my book, Martin’s been doing a great job, and it’s a shame it hasn’t resulted in wins yet — but there should be no doubt that they will come at this rate. Except for stretches in 07-08, I haven’t been this hopeful about the long-term prospect of a Habs team in a while.

  2. Very well put, MathMan. It’s what I want – thoughts about the new coach. But it doesn’t change the fact that a couple more losses, or a very poor first 15 games or so, and I won’t be the only one questioning the coach.

  3. Frankly, if they keep playing like this — or keep improving, as they pretty much have — and losing, we need to stop worrying about the coach and start worrying about a possible curse.

    There’s no way Cammalleri will take 24 shots to score every goal he pots in, and he’s the poster boy for everything that ails the Canadiens… the darn thing just won’t go in.

  4. It’s true, they’re just not finishing. It could’ve been about 4-0 after the first last night, but it’s hands of stone out there right now. You’re making a great deal of sense, MathMan.

  5. I agree with MathMan on a couple of things.

    No. 1. Martin had mentioned specifically making shorter passes entering the offensive zone…. their transition has gotten a little less messy then it was.

    The last games have been closer and they’ve had opportunities to score…. puck’s just not going in. For whatever reason.

    No. 2. Martin mentioned lowering shot totals on his goaltenders. Shot totals have come down. Looks like his system may be slowly settling in.

    In the case of the offensive and defensive transition though…. it doesn’t yet look like a well oiled machine… I do believe it will get more polished.

    I don’t think Martin is doing a bad job yet.

    As for his record…. I’d say it can equally be attributed to his team… the players.

    Many consider that Lalime wasn’t a great goaltender. A playoff series is a different animal…. gives you more opportunity to find out how to break down the other team because you play them x times in a row.

    So I’d personally consider that a wash. Not sure I’d blame the coach alone. Combination in my book.

  6. Thanks Yves. I wanted comments about Martin and I’ve gotten a couple of beauties. He’s absolutely brought the shots against down which was an ongoing horror show last year. it seemed like it was always about 40-20 shots on goal every night. So that’s much better. But Martin had the teams in Ottawa to finish first often, who were the class of the league, and always fell apart in the playoffs. Was it the Ottawa goaltending, or was it more than that? But you and MathMan are both absolutely right about the team playing better, and I appreciate this. First things first, they have to win on Tuesday. Never has there been more of an understatement.

  7. I agree… they have to win on tuesday.

    But it’s gonna be a test. Atlanta is hot…. 4 wins 1 loss.

    I imagine M.A. Bergeron will be in the lineup… also wondering about S.K.

    Although, as per some reporting on RDS videos, Renau Lavoie seemed to speak of him as if he would either be traded or he may skip over the pond… they mention 3 KHL teams are interested in him.

    I’d like to see Pyatt come up. The guy is a spark plug…. plays good defense.

  8. Bergeron has been called up from Hamilton, Belle is sent back down. Martin has a lot on his plate, consider this, how would Carbo be fairing so far? The Habs are improving game by game. Pucks will start going in the net because Moey says so.

  9. I agree with Moey.

    They weren’t bad. The pucks will start going in soon….

    And if they keep the shots on goal down and make few mistakes on D…. they’ll be fine.

  10. The job of the coach is not a popularity contest. I am sure JM realizes that and maybe a bit of tough love is what some of the players need to remind them they are there to perform at their highest level for the fans who pay dearly to see them compete. I’m not saying he has to be a monster, but probably the reason JM’s playoff record isn’t so stellar is because when he was with the Sens he had too many big babies and chokers who did not put on their game faces come playoff time. Sometimes the coach has to be a prick to get the best out the players, but it is a bit of a balancing act for sure. I believe the jury is still out on JM as the CH is still rebuilding and adjusting. The game against the Thrashers with the addition of M-A Bergeron could be the turning point we have all been waiting for and when everything crystallizes into a convincing victory…
    Still, patience does have its limits.

  11. Coaches have to use their heads. It’s kind of like bosses I’ve had over the years. The ones who said I was doing a good job got the best from me. But I developed a real attitude to the ones who never said anything good. I think it’s the same for coaches. Every player probably needs to treated slightly different.

  12. I’m not holding my breath this year, wishing for miracles etc……

    Since ’93 I’ve been doing so and frankly it’s burning me out in a sports fan kind of way.

    Way too early in the season to really question what the problem is but as Habs fans we must I suppose.

    Martin is not to blame yet nor is Price, Gionta, and crew…. Hands of stone, I don’t believe so, the speed of the one timer is incredible I’m impressed that the puck even goes close to the net, the timing will be there with a few more games. New team,coaches,owner etc it’s rebuilding time boys. Last rebuild=fail, this one hmmm 4yrs we might be in a better position. Our best bet is the draft, bite the bullet keep your picks bring them up earlier. Look at Detroit as an example.

    All I’m happy about is the Centennial Distraction and all it’s pre game ceremonies is nearly over. Nice for the fans but a pain in the arse for the players i’m sure.

    Thus endeth my ramble

  13. Ryan. I just can’t help myself. I’m always wishing for miracles with the Habs. I have to stop but I think it’s too late.

  14. Too late to get in on this discussion? Anyways, I always felt that Martin was hired because he was a French coach, not because he was the best coach.

    I’ve always thought the French media would prefer a Habs team led by a French coach that wasn’t as good, as opposed to a Habs team led by an English coach that was a contender.

    But I do think it’s too early to get into the debate of Martin. But I do believe that if the Habs don’t start getting wins in the next two weeks, then Gainey deserves to be fired.

  15. I think you’re right on both counts, Tom. It has to be a French coach regardless. And if the slide continues, within two weeks, who knows, both could be gone. Thanks for that. Hope you’re doing well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *