Title - Mitch Melnick
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The Wrong Guy is leaving - Muller's coaching career has only just begun
Mitch Melnick
Team990 and

The Wrong Guy is leaving - Muller
Kirk Muller, Assistant Coach of the Montreal Canadiens

Montreal - Jan. 25, 2011 - For those who weren't around last spring, you can stay with me here or, at some point, just go backwards and check what I wrote about Kirk Muller's importance to the Canadiens playoff run last spring. Now that news has leaked that Muller will leave Montreal after this season, let me try to state why I think he's more valuable to the Habs than Jacques Martin.

Muller is a champion and a winner. Martin is not. Muller earned respect from teammates and opposing players throughout his long career. Martin had no playing career. Muller helped bring the Stanley Cup to two cities. Martin's never been close enough to even sniff it. Harsh? You want a championship team in this town or not?

The best move Jacques Martin made last spring was to finally accept what Muller was preaching. Martin is a stiff, stubborn, non - communicative old (hockey) school systems guy. Muller is all about passion and understanding players. I'm told by somebody who was extremely close to the team a year ago but no longer around that Muller's frustration level had reached a boiling point. Martin, working with his security blanket named Perry Pearn, wouldn't listen to what Muller would suggest, until it was almost too late.

Desperate men do desperate things. Last spring, having just snuck into the playoffs in his first year behind the bench in Montreal after missing them during his entire tenure as coach and/or GM in Florida, Martin became desperate. And Muller finally found a willing ear. And that security blanket named Pearn turned into a wet rag. Marc Andre Bergeron found himself on the bench, appearing on power plays only. Ryan O'Byrne was finally inserted into the line up to help 5'10" Jaro Halak deal with Washington forwards crashing his crease. Stanley Cup winner Travis Moen was finally given a defined role playing alongside Scott Gomez & Brian Gionta. The bench was shortened and an amazing thing happened. Unlike the methodical, season - long rolling of four lines and three sets of defensemen that Martin and Pearn repeated over and over no matter the circumstance, the Habs' best players actually got the most ice time.

And they won. Until they met the Flyers.

While the geniuses who run the Canadiens decided over the summer that it wasn't worth the effort to return a Larry Robinson phone call, Pearn claimed he was mulling over an offer to return to Western Canada. And Muller was denied permission to talk to another NHL franchise about what would no doubt have been a co - coaching arrangement (Likely with John Maclean in New Jersey). Maybe that worked out for the best you're saying? Perhaps. But you might also say that Muller would be an NHL head coach right now. So if the Habs thought so highly of Muller and wouldn't let him leave, why were they not able to re - sign him?

Jacques Martin has had a nice, long NHL career. But he is so yesterday.

Muller? His second NHL career has only just begun.

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