The Pens will have a new “eye in the sky” for the 2015-16 season.
Jacques Martin, 62, will join head coach Mike Johnston’s staff under the new title of special assistant to the head coach. His primary role will be to analyze games from the media level and provide instant observations to Johnston and his staff.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Martin said. “I have a good relationship with the coaching staff and management. Being closer to the team and provide feedback, use my experience from over the years, just giving them another opinion.”
Martin was already a key asset to the coaching staff from a scouting and advisory perspective this past season. Martin pre-scouted opponents for the Penguins during the regular and postseasons to note tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. He provided these reports to the Pens’ coaches based on two facets.
“One is personnel, on players, some strengths and areas that we can exploit on certain players,” Martin said. “The second component is looking at the team’s play, systems and what we can to do to counteract that.”
Martin will continue his pre-scouting duties next season for the Pens, though this year it will be via video as opposed to on-site. But in his new role he will travel full time with the team, allowing him to give the coaching staff, players and management notes in-game and post-game.
“Coming down between periods to give feedback of what I see upstairs, on our players, our system, our execution,” he said. “So in-between periods as well as after games and in between games giving my analysis to Mike (Johnston). Another voice, looking at the game from upstairs versus the bench.”
It’s a role that Martin actually filled in the final week of the Pens’ season and during their First Round Stanley Cup playoff matchup against the New York Rangers.
“It’s really going to be similar to last year at the end of the season,” he said. “The last week and playoffs I was around.”
Next year will be Martin’s third with the Pens organization. He had previously served as an assistant coach for the Penguins in 2013-14. With a new coaching staff in place last season, Martin moved into a senior advisory role for general manager Jim Rutherford.
“My knowledge of the team being there in a full time position, knowing a lot of the personnel, having seen a lot of our prospects, being able to give info on our prospects is another area I can contribute,” Martin said. “I have a close relationship with Jim. The evaluation of our personnel. Similar to what I’ve done most of my career.”
Martin has seen it all during his 30-plus years of coaching hockey. That includes stints in the NHL as head coach (St. Louis, Ottawa, Florida and Montreal) and assistant coach (Chicago, Quebec/Colorado). He was a four-time finalist for the Jack Adams Award, given to the NHL coach of the year, and won the award in 1999 with Ottawa. Martin has also coached in two Winter Olympic Games for Canada (2002, ’06), winning gold in ’02.
And now Martin will add that experience and expertise to the Pens’ staff.
“When you look at most teams they have three (assistant) coaches on staff. They the benefit of having a coach upstairs,” Martin said. “I’ll be able to fulfill the role.”