Third time is the charm, or so is hoping Kirk Muller who was announced by the Montreal Canadiens as Michel Therrien‘s associate coach for the upcoming NHL season, one day after announcing that he would not return to the St. Louis Blues as an assistant coach. Once a player for the Red, White and Blue, once an assistant coach for the team, this will be Muller’s third time landing in Montreal… and this news has fans excited and united.
While many who use coach Therrien as the team scapegoat are already wishing to see Muller take over the head coaching job from him, most recognise that Muller’s job is not to take over, but to help make the Canadiens a better team, as part of the Therrien coaching staff. And if he can improve on a powerplay that has not been as efficient since his departure, it should go a long way to secure more wins for the Habs, and at the same time solidify Therrien’s spot as head coach. Ironic, don’t you think?
Having said that, the Canadiens now have an immediate option if the Canadiens are up to a slow start to next season, by giving GM Marc Bergevin some flexibility with a somewhat experienced coach behind the bench. In three seasons as the Carolina Hurricanes’ bench boss, Muller coached 187 NHL games, with a record of 80-80-27. His team failed to qualify for the playoffs in all three seasons, which ended up costing him his job.
However, here is an interesting statistic regarding Muller’s assistant coach tenure with the Canadiens:
#Habs hire Kirk Muller as associate coach
Habs PP from 2006-11 (w/Muller): 21.6% (2nd)
Habs PP since 2011 (w/o Muller): 16.7% (26th)
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 2, 2016
No need to say that if the former team captain can improve on this aspect of the Canadiens’ game alone, it will result in more goals for, and with Carey Price in net, it also should result in more wins for the team.
For those of you too young to remember him as a player for the Canadiens, Muller was drafted second overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1984, behind Mario Lemieux. He served as team captain for both the Devils and the Canadiens, to whom he was traded along with Roland Melanson (remember him?) for Stéphane Richer and Tom Chorske in 1991. He was instrumental in the Habs’ 24th Stanley Cup run in 1993.