Jacques Martin is back in the NHL. The Pittsburgh Penguins announced Friday they have hired the veteran coach as an assistant on Dan Bylsma's staff.
Martin, 60, previously was coach of the St. Louis Blues, Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens. He joins a Penguins staff that includes assistants Tony Granato and Todd Reirden.
"To have an opportunity to work with a great organization, some great people, a great coaching staff, a team that has won a Stanley Cup before and a great nucleus of core players, for me that's exciting," Martin said in a conference call. "If you look at this team, it's a team that has had a lot of success but is still a young team. Guys like [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin, [Pascal] Dupuis, [Kris] Letang. There's a core of young players. I think it will be a good integration with me into the rest of the staff."
The Penguins announced Friday the hiring of veteran coach Jacques Martin as an assistant on Dan Bylsma's staff. (Photo: Getty Images)
Martin last coached with the Canadiens during the 2011-12 season and spent last season working as a television analyst. In his first season with Montreal, he knocked off the Penguins in the second round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs on the way to the Eastern Conference Final.
His coaching career includes 1,294 games, 613 wins and 12 playoff appearances in 17 seasons. He ranks seventh among NHL coaches in games coached and 10th in wins. He won the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year with Ottawa in 1999 and was a finalist for the award on three other occasions.
The Penguins had been discussing the possibility of adding a third assistant to their coaching staff for some time. So when the opportunity to add a coach with Martin's background came along, Bylsma spearheaded these discussions.
"We looked for a number of years adding an additional coach to our staff. We weren't just looking for a coach. We were looking for a criteria of a coach and experience of a coach. That's where our conversations with Jacques began," Bylsma said. "I began speaking with Jacques numerous times in the last couple of months. The expertise of Jacques, his experience in the game at many different levels, is really what we want to add to our team."
Martin's hiring means he will enjoy a reunion with Penguins general manager Ray Shero, who was the assistant general manager in Ottawa when the team hired Martin to be its coach. The pair enjoyed tremendous success with the Senators, and Shero said he was excited when Bylsma alerted him he was talking with Martin.
"We were together for two-and-a-half years in Ottawa, but I had known Jacques before that through various people. It's been 15 years since we worked in Ottawa. But if you follow his career he's obviously done very well at the NHL level," Shero said. "I was very comfortable when Dan started talking to Jacques. I was 100 percent behind the decision for Jacques to join our staff. I'm excited to have Jacques aboard."
Martin was an associate coach for the 2002 Canadian Olympic team that won the gold medal in Salt Lake City and served in the same capacity for Canada at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.
In addition to his coaching experience, he served in the dual role of general manager and coach with the Panthers from 2006-08. He was an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks, Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche, experience that Martin said will serve him well in his transition from being the main man to serving in a supporting role.
"A mentor of mine, Roger Neilson, happened to be an assistant of mine [in Ottawa] at the end of his career. I learned a great deal from Roger," Martin said. "I've always looked as coaching, whether I'm the head coach or assistant coach, as teamwork. We have different responsibilities, but I always felt I wanted my assistant coaches to be strong people that expressed themselves."
Bylsma said the Penguins are close to naming a goaltending coach to their staff. Longtime goalie coach Gilles Meloche stepped down June 12.
"We have three candidates right now we feel really strongly about," Bylsma said. "I anticipate that process not lasting more than weeks. But I'm not going to put a definite time frame on it."