The past seven days were punctuated by two significant pieces of news. First of all, it was reported earlier this week that assistant coach Kirk Muller will leave the team this off-season in pursuit of coaching opportunities elsewhere. Meanwhile, after being named as rookie injury replacement for this weekend’s All-Star skills contest, it seems that P.K Subban will be taking a little voyage to Carolina. In this week’s Around the Boards, we look at how our forum members view both the potential departure of Captain Kirk and Subban’s trip to Raleigh.
As many have read by now, on Tuesday Francois Gagnon of La Presse reported that Kirk Muller, who has been an assistant coach since with Canadiens 2006, had received various offers this past offseason and has clearly told the organization that he intends to leave this summer. And, after losing Guy Boucher in the offseason, some of our board members, including Hab29RETIRED, expressed concern at losing another talented young coach: “I’m not saying Muller is the second coming of Bowman, but he is the only member of our coaching staff that I’ve got any confidence in. He is also the only one here the players on the team consistently praise”. Meanwhile, others seem to hope that Muller eventually transitions into the head coaching role in Montreal. JoeLassister feels that, should Montreal abolish its bilingual coach policy, he would be a good fit. “ If he (Geoff Molson) dares end it, I suspect Kirk Muller would be a great fit. He wore the C for the Habs and still generally loved and respected by the fans around here”.The Chicoutimi Cucumber echoes a similar sentiment: ”I sure hope Molson takes this bulls**t by the horns. And yes, I’d love to see a seamless transition from JM to Muller at some point – now that would really speak to an organization that has its act together”.
Regardless of his lack of bilingualism, Kirk Muller appears to be generally well liked by the media. He has a reputation as a good communicator, conveys a positive demeanour and expresses his emotions far more than Jacques Martin. In addition, the fact that he survived the massive overhaul of two years ago, something which very few assistant coaches would have done, speaks volumes on his ability and usefulness.
Having said that, I fail to see the rush to make him the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. Before Jacques Martin stepped in, the Canadiens saw a parade of rookie head coaches take over the reigns with varying levels of success. Alain Vigneault, Michel Therrien, Claude Julien, Guy Carbonneau. Interestingly, all of the aforementioned coaches, save for Carbonneau, went on to find new head coaching jobs in the NHL and have all done quite well. Michel Therrien took the Penguins to a Cup final while Alain Vigneault and Claude Julien are currently at the helm of division-leading teams. Clearly, they all benefited from their time in Montreal, arguably the league’s roughest market, and learned from their errors. So, instead of rushing the next hot coaching prospect into the NHL, maybe Montreal can simply let them learn and make their mistakes elsewhere. The reality is, most coaches end up being fired. At some point, Kirk Muller and Guy Boucher will once again be available to the Canadiens, enriched by their new experiences away from the franchise.
Finally, on the topic of departures, albeit this time a short-term one, it was announced on Wednesday that P.K Subban has gotten an invite to the All-Star game in Raleigh. While most seemed generally pleased to have the spirited blueliner at the game, a few of our members were concerned about his presence in the limelight. For one, dlbalr worries about the type of questions, ranging from his on-ice behaviour to his skin colour, the rookie might face: ”The fact that Subban earned this replacement nod will be superceded by all the negativity that’s gone on around him this year. The Montreal media will shy away, but with other local and national outlets there, the odds of him becoming a story beyond his on-ice contributions seems more likely than not. […] That’s why I’m not overly thrilled he’ll be there, I’ve just got a bad feeling someone will say something stupid and set off more unwarranted negativity”. Conversely, The Chicoutimi Cucumber is not worried about negativity, but rather by the potential distraction the All-Star game may prove to be: ”I’d be more concerned that he’ll find the whole affair distracting and ego-inflating, knocking him off the focus he seems to have attained in recent weeks”.
Both of the above members have good points. There are risks that this game becomes a disturbance for the young man, either because of the constant media intervention or because the event stokes his ego a bit too much. But, the truth is, between his immense talent and charming, talkative personality, those risks will likely be constant throughout his career. He might as well get adapted to that reality sooner rather than later. Besides, let’s be honest, a skills contest with P.K Subban is far more interesting than one without.
That’s all for this week’s instalment of ATB. Until next week, see you on the boards.
Louis Moustakas can be reached for comments, questions, cross-checks and, of course, fan-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the comment box below.