UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
More Sports

Wings to lock up Hossa, why Habs blew it with new coach

While nothing will be announced during the Stanley Cup final, unrestricted free agent Marian Hossa likely will be signing a long-term deal, believed to be seven years, to stay with the Red Wings . . .

Pavel Datsyuk (injured foot) is unlikely to play in Game 3 on Tuesday night but Kris Draper (strained groin sustained in Game 3 of the conference final) might make it back because Mikael Samuelsson (undisclosed injury) didn't take the morning skate . . .

Until the final 20 seconds of Game 2, there had been only five minor penalties called. The leniency has not unduly upset either finalist. "I think the standard has been called fair," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma.

Red Wings grinder Kirk Maltby took it even further. "This is a blueprint for how the regular season should go. They're not going back to the old rules where (there were) real dramatic hooks and holds and slingshots coming up the ice, but I think they're letting guys battle in the corners and in front of the net. As players, and hockey fans, all you ask is that it's even on both sides and (they) call it the same way."

Here are seven reasons why I hate the Montreal Canadiens' hiring of Jacques Martin as their new coach.

1. The Flying Frenchmen have metamorphosed into the Trapping Frenchman.

2. Martin is hopelessly dull. The fabled franchise already has Henri Richard, winner of a record 11 Stanley Cups. Martin is Ennui Richard.

3. The former Florida Panthers general manager is pretty much uncommunicative in two languages: French and English.

4. Martin is hardly a free-agent magnet. Do the Canadiens now have the inside track on UFA defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, late of Florida? Forget it. It is difficult enough to attract free agents to Montreal because of the high taxes, bad weather, intense media scrutiny and lack of recent success. Like the Minnesota Wild found out with the esteemed Jacques Lemaire -- who is a brilliant hockey mind -- playing for a coach with a stolid system on a team with no short-term shot at a Stanley Cup is not the first option of many players.

5. Martin has not had conspicuous success as a coach. While he had some first-rate teams and undeniable talent in Ottawa, his Senators never made it to a Stanley Cup Final, blowing Game 7 at home to New Jersey in 2003. The teams he coached in Florida never made the playoffs. The curriculum vitae is decent, but Martin is not exactly an A-lister.

6. The consensus of every hockey executive I spoke to at the Stanley Cup Final is that Montreal GM Bob Gainey -- presumably with the tacit approval of whichever group is going to buy a majority share of the team from George Gillett -- blew it. Goodness knows, these guys aren't always right. But rarely are they all wrong.

7. And the most important reason: Martin's teams play the wrong way at the wrong time in the evolution of the NHL. The game is opening up, even if goal totals are flat. If you look at the successful coaching changes within the past two years, the ones that really seem to have taken hold involved system changes that favored high-tempo hockey.

The most obvious is Bruce Boudreau in Washington (November 2007), but this season the Penguins soared when the freshly-hired Bylsma instructed the team to push the pace. The New York Rangers (John Tortorella) and the Senators (Cory Clouston) started to turn around when they were encouraged to put the pedal to the metal. Traditionally, Martin has eschewed that type of style and preached defensive responsibility.

To the Canadiens, whoa is you.

MUIR:Florida revealingly quick to let Martin go

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.