Saturday, November 6, 2010
In defense of Jacques Martin........
Do I like him? I have no feelings one way or the other, the only thing that matters to me is that he wins games. But I would like to take a look at the most common complaints from fans and break them down.
He can't coach. His coaching record says otherwise and that's a tangible. Sixteen years in the NHL as a head coach, a lifetime record of 556-439-119 works out to an average of .550 hockey. Nominated three times for the Jack Adams award, winning it in 1999. The biggest criticism is he never brought a team to a Stanley Cup. There are so many factors and mitigating circumstances in winning a cup I wouldn't hold that against him. A lot of good coaches have never won a cup, it doesn't mean they can't coach. Case in point, Lindy Ruff.
When the team has a one goal lead he instructs them to sit on it and focus on defense. Really? Okay, so I have to believe that he goes into the dressing room between periods and says " Listen up boys, we have the lead, I don't want to see any more scoring, it's all about defense, defense, defense. If anyone scores a goal the team bag-skates tomorrow." Nonsense. I've listened to a few ex NHL'ers who say that it's human nature to sit on a lead, in other words, the players themselves tend to lapse into a protective mode.
He ruins young players and doesn't give them a chance. He does seem to lack patience with rookie mistakes, but then again, he's been running a hockey summer school for the past 20 years, one has to believe that he's been watching and working with young players long enough to know what attributes and characteristics will translate into successful NHL players. Case in point, Benoit Pouliot. Benny has a rep of being a bit of a head case. So far his line mates Gionta and Gomez have not been producing so of course the blame naturally falls on Benny. Martin has made a point of defending him to the media, inferring that the blame might be better directed toward his line mates. I watched very closely last night against the Sabres, Scott Gomez allegedly got a spanking from the coach yesterday morning and still only has eyes for Gionta. Obviously Gomez isn't into threesomes. Martin saw it, most of us didn't. Benny seems happier in his new relationship with Halpern and Darche. Coach Martin 1, fans 0.
He's dull and boring. I like that, he's calm and I think he keeps the team grounded. Very Bob Gaineyesque. The thought of having a coach like John Tortorella makes me shudder. His hissy fits behind the bench and with the media are embarrassing. Martin gets it, it's not about him and he wasn't hired to entertain the media. He quietly goes about his business and his business is to win hockey games.
Speaking of Bob Gainey, he had to have known in early spring of 2009 that he was planning on gutting the team. Gainey realized when Carbo couldn't right the ship of a team that had finished first in the Eastern Conference and were in danger of missing the playoffs, he simply didn't have the experience to take on a brand new roster in the fall. I have to believe that was the main reason for Carbo's demise. Maybe Guy and I could meet for coffee one of these days and I'll explain that to him, since he's still seems to be in the dark.
Jacques Martin took on a brand new team, he had to find chemistry, juggle lines and deal with injuries to top players all season long. He still managed to squeak them into the playoffs and out coached Bruce Boudreau and Dan Bylsma in the process. The Flyers however are a different kettle of fish, we can hardly pin the blame on Martin. If he doesn't have the proper tools he can't get the job done.
I think the team is in good, more than capable coaching hands. The team's success or failure this year ultimately rests on the shoulders of Pierre Gauthier. He needs to address two major issues, the power play and getting more punch into the top six. Fans love to point fingers and lay blame, which is fine and is their right as the money paying public. I have no problem with that, as long as it's pointed in the right direction.