Saturday, September 19, 2009

Who's the next Habs captain? Don't ask Jacques

Got an email from Fred at today, asking for some insight on Jacques Martin as a coach and who he's likely to pick as the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens.

I was still a (very) young man when Jack was coach of the Senators, and not yet blogging (or as it was known in the 90's 'wasting time') so I'm hoping you, the loyal commentors, can add your thoughts to what I've written and give Fred some perspective on Mr. Martin.

Jacques Martin, from what I can remember, was very much known as a 'laissez faire' coach in these respects.

When the Senators were gaining steam back in the late 90's, Martin very much focuses on defensive fundamentals. While this produced a team that was extremely successful in the regular season, and made C-caliber goalies look like A's, it was also ultimately his downfall.

Sure, the Senators would win games 2-1 or 3-2, and make the playoffs consistently, they lacked the flair and fight of a team destined for a Stanley Cup when he was coach. For example, Jason Spezza was and is a supremely talented player, but when the Senators first drafted him, Martin refused to play him consistently. He was a defensive liability, Martin would contend. Once Martin could instill that defensive responsibility, Spezza would play--that was the mantra.

I'm not sure what his years in Florida have taught him, but Martin had little to do with captain selections why he was in Ottawa. If anything, Martin merely capitulated to the wills of overbearing players when Yashin was named captain. In Daniel Alfredsson, of course, there was an obvious choice--a player of poise, character, and commitment--but again, I can't recall Martin ever making any grand statements of support or opposition for Alfredsson. (Martin, of course, was already gone during the dark days when the team considered trading Alfie).

To summarize, Martin is a soft-spoken coach who, I believe, will not be the determining factor when the Habs pick their next captain. In all likelihood, it will be whomever the players on the Canadiens roster show their support for.

In order for this player to last long as the Canadiens' captain, I would recommend that he emulate Martin--speak softly, think defensively, and never lose his cool.

Senators are taking on the Canadiens tonight. I'll see if I can ask yell "Who's the next captain?" at Jacques through the glass.
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