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Penguins hire Jacques Martin as assistant coach - 08-09-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Citing a desire to bring on a third assistant coach for a number of years, the Penguins have hired former Blues/Senators/Panthers/Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin (right) as an assistant coach.

Martin, 60, last coached in the NHL during the 2011-12 season with the Canadiens. He was fired midway through that campaign and has worked in television since then.

In a conference call with media this afternoon, Dan Bylsma did not elaborate on Martin's specific role with the Penguins but cited his experience as a factor in bringing him on. Martin joins a coaching staff which already includes assistants Tony Granato and Todd Reirden. Granato is primarily responsible for directing the penalty kill and forwards while Reirden has a hand in the power play as well as the defensemen.

Martin, a native of Saint-Pascal Baylon, Ontario, has been a head coach in 1,294 career regular season games and has a record of 613-481-119. A winner of the Jack Adams Award in 1999, Martin has the 10th most coaching wins in NHL history.

The bulk of Martin's head coaching experience took place with the Senators. He led Ottawa to three Northeast Division titles as well as the Presidents' Trophy in 2003 as the league's best team in the regular season. Despite that success, Martin's team's in Ottawa never ventured past the Eastern Conference final in postseason play. During Martin's tenure in Ottawa, Penguins general manager Ray Shero served as an assistant general manager for three years.

Martin was the head coach of the 2009-10 Canadiens squad which upset the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal round and Bylsma's defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins in the semifinal round.

Martin, who won a Stanley Cup ring as as an assistant with the Avalanche in 1996, has been an assistant coach for Canada in a handful of international competitions including the 2002 Olympics where he won a Gold medal with current Penguins owner Mario Lemieux. He also served as the Panthers' general manager for three seasons.

In additional coaching news, head coach Dan Bylsma said the team's search for a new goaltending coach is down to three candidates. The team is seeking a replacement for Gilles Meloche who stepped down following last season.

EN Says: Based on a conference call with media this afternoon, it doesn't seem like Martin's role has been defined quite yet. He will serve in an "at large" capacity for the time being. Regardless of what specific duties Martin takes on, its hard to argue with his experience.

If nothing else, Martin's teams have traditionally been strong defensively. The 2009-10 Canadiens had postseason success on the blue line with the likes of Hal Gill and Josh Gorges collapsing around the net and making life miserable for all-stars such as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

In Ottawa, Martin helped develop defensemen Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden into Norris Trophy-caliber players while also overseeing the likes of shutdown defenders Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov. It's hard to imagine he won't have a hand in coaching the likes of Kris Letang or any of the Penguins' young defensemen such as Simon Despres.

Given how the NHL recycles coaches, it's difficult to believe that Martin, who did interview for the vacant head coaching job in Vancouver before it went to John Tortorella, was out of coaching for this long.

The elephant in the room with this hire is how popular Martin's name will be among amateur general managers anytime the Penguins have a hiccup in regular season or postseason play. Should the Penguins stumble at any point, it will be hard to imagine there not being any suggestions for Bylsma to be replaced by Martin given his considerable resume. At the same time, it's difficult not to envision a scenario where Shero makes a change at the head coaching position with an internal option if the situation merits it. He's done it before.

(Photo: Dylan Lynch/Getty Images)

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