Penguins hire veteran coach as assistant

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It's not unusual when a player goes to training camp hoping to learn more about his role for the upcoming season.

This year Penguins coaches will go through that, too.

The team hired former NHL head coach Jacques Martin to be a third assistant coach Friday, but his duties have yet to be defined.

Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma referred to Martin's job as a "support role" several times in a conference call with reporters and said his staff will be getting together at the end of the month to discuss roles and responsibilities. Bylsma wasn't sure if Martin will be on the bench during games.

"I certainly think in training camp we're going to be seeing exactly how that plays out, in terms of what those responsibilities are, what suits our staff the best, what's the best for our team," Bylsma said. "That's really the important aspect of adding a coach like Jacques Martin to our staff, his expertise, his experience, what he brings to the game."

Martin, 60, was the NHL coach of the year in 1999 when he was behind the Ottawa Senators bench. His 613 wins as a head coach put him 10th all time in the NHL. He was last with Montreal in 2011 and also coached St. Louis and Florida.

He is known for coaching defense, and Bylsma hinted that was a factor in the hiring..

"We've always looked at situations we need to get better at and improve upon," Bylsma said. "Two years ago, we didn't like what happened with our team and how we played defense and what happened to us in playoffs against Philadelphia. So we always looked to get better in certain areas. We've been looking and wanted to add another assistant coach to our team for a number of years.

"But it wasn't just any person, it wasn't just any coach."

In the end it was Martin, who worked with Penguins general manager Ray Shero in Ottawa and knew Bylsma before they started talking about this possibility.

"It makes it easier knowing some of the people, for sure," Martin said. "My conversation and my meeting with them really made me comfortable as far as feeling part of the team and being able to contribute in whatever it needs to be."

For Shero, adding another coach was a way to help the team get better without spending any more against the salary cap.

"There's other areas in which you can try to improve your team off the ice," Shero said. "With half the teams in the league having three assistant coaches now, there's certainly plenty to do. We're back into an 82-game schedule, and there's plenty of pre-scouting to do and preparation to achieve our goals."

The consensus seems to be that the Penguins respect Martin as a hockey mind and believe having him around, in whatever capacity, will help.

"There are certain roles each [assistant] coach has right now that they will retain," Bylsma said. "They each have a special team, Todd [Reirden] and Tony [Granato], and they're going to retain that right now. That does not mean Jacques won't be assisting.

"He's going to be in a support role for those situations. But there are avenues of our team that we all share and were looking to benefit from that by bringing on Jacques."

The Penguins still need a goaltending coach to replace Gilles Meloche, who stepped down to assume a scouting role. Bylsma said the team is down to three finalists for the job and likely will make a decision in the next few weeks.

breaking - penguins

First Published August 9, 2013 11:30 AM


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