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Jacques Martin and young player development


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This is a theme that recurs in the running discussion of Martin's merits and demerits as a coach. Everything about Martin - from his haircut to his postgame comments to his game plans - screams 'conservative,' and several of his decisions over time have been criticized for favouring veterans and dealing counter-productively with young talent. The case of PK Subban is obviously the most important example. People are frightened that Martin will beat all the joie de vivre, all the panache and derring-do from Subban's game in the name of 'defensive responsibility' and 'team play.'

But are these fears really justified? What in fact is Martin's track record in developing young players? You can make a case that Martin is excellent at developing young talent; and when that talent fails to develop, it's not his fault so much as the mediocrity of the talent.

He coached the Ottawa Senators from 1996 to 2004. What this means is that he fully oversaw the development of, among others:

-Daniel Alfredsson

-Marian Hossa

-Martin Havlat

-Chris Phillips

-Wade Redden

Not a bad crop, is it? A couple of points to note about this. One is that Redden began his terminal career decline one year after Martin left, suggesting at least an indirect link between Martin's handling and his success. The other is that one young player Martin was accused of mishandling was Jason Spezza who entered the league in 02-03. Martin insisted that Spezza learn to play a responsible two-way game and many Ottawa fans attacked him for this 'stifling' of a prospective superstar. But Spezza has since become notorious, long after Martin's departure, for being an irresponsible, soft player who doesn't do the little things needed to win. In short, subsequent events suggest that Martin was right to react to Spezza as he did.

Martin went on to coach the Florida Panthers from 2005-06 to 2007-08. What's significant about this is that he inherited two players with world-class potential:

-Ollie Jokinen

-Jay Bouwemeester

and that both players' careers took a huge jump in Martin's first season behind the bench. Bouwmeester went from 20 to 46 points, Jokinen from 58 to 89 points. What is equally noteworthy is that Jokinen's career went in the tank after leaving Martin (although admittedly the rot had set in in JM's last season in Florida, with a drop to 71 points). Bouwmeester had one more good year and then slid into what appears to be permanent mediocrity with Calgary. Further, the only Florida Panther to emerge after JM left was David Booth - and even that occured more as part of a logical career progression than as any evidence of his having been 'stifled' by Martin; so there is no evidence that Martin was undermining the development of any young Panthers, and some significant evidence that he handled the young talent very well indeed.

If you look at his handling of the Habs' young players, you so far find

-a reluctance to give a lot of responsiblity to O'Bryne

-ongoing, patient attempts to bring along Kostitsyn, including defending him in the press

-a combination of carrots and sticks with Subban, demoting him after a bad game but also giving him tons of ice the moment it becomes apparent that Subban is responding with his 'A' Game

-patience, but not unlimited patience, with Pouliot

-a blunt willingness to play the best-performing goalie (Halak), with apparently good results for Price's development

Many point to JM's handling of OB as evidence of the former's incompetence with young players. What I'd suggest, based on the above analysis, is that JM simply doesn't think OB has the makeup to be a significant NHL regular. With other young players his message seems to be firm, consistent, and tolerably patient.

Say what you want about Martin. But I'm not sure the argument that he is bad at developing young talent can at all be sustained.

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I think he's been fine so far. All four lines have been rolled, Eller is getting 10 minutes a night and occasional PP time playing with pretty skilled bottom 6 players like Boyd and Lapierre. I think Martin does a good job of making young players be complimentary players until they can earn their way up the depth chart. I really like the way he manages ice time.

When Martin came to Montreal he said the players he was most excited to work with were Plekanec and Higgins (this was right after Plekanec's weakest season as a regular), two hardworking young two-way players. I think Eller and Subban are going to be just fine in his hands, the exact type of player he likes to deal with. Lapierre, who also sort of fits that description, is awarded with PK time and the occasional PP shift. As for players like O'Byrne, Kostitsyn (if they can still be called young) and Pouliot, it all depends on the effort they put in. Work like Gorges and you'll lead the team in ice time. Fail to follow instructions and you're out like Latendresse and Sergei Kostitsyn.

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The one I'm most concerned about is Eller, and it's too early to say how their relationship will turn out. I do like that after benching him last night, he defended him to the media and said it was more the circumstances than Eller's play. Still, I'd like to see him given more of a chance after mistakes.

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He coached the Ottawa Senators from 1996 to 2004. What this means is that he fully oversaw the development of, among others:

-Daniel Alfredsson

-Marian Hossa

-Martin Havlat

-Chris Phillips

-Wade Redden

Not a bad crop, is it? A couple of points to note about this. One is that Redden began his terminal career decline one year after Martin left, suggesting at least an indirect link between Martin's handling and his success. The other is that one young player Martin was accused of mishandling was Jason Spezza who entered the league in 02-03. Martin insisted that Spezza learn to play a responsible two-way game and many Ottawa fans attacked him for this 'stifling' of a prospective superstar. But Spezza has since become notorious, long after Martin's departure, for being an irresponsible, soft player who doesn't do the little things needed to win. In short, subsequent events suggest that Martin was right to react to Spezza as he did.

Alfredsson was a solid player for every coach he has played for. Hossa and Havlat under Martin actually were criticized as being play-off busts (as was ALfredsson), a label that was gone with martin.

I think Redden's decline had more to do with the loss of Chara then Martin. I can't believe how Elliot Freidman raves about Redden and has being crying over how Redden has been treated by the NYR. The guy is a bum and was an over-rated bum in Ottawa. The Sens clearly made the wrong choice, since Chara actually wanted to stay in Ottawa.

Spezza finally broke out after the Sens dumped Martin. Who knows, under another year of Martin, Spezza may have become another Daigle. Some guys are going to always just be pure offensive players with little defensive conscious (i.e. the two lazy Pierre's - Larouche and Turgeon).

Martin went on to coach the Florida Panthers from 2005-06 to 2007-08. What's significant about this is that he inherited two players with world-class potential:

-Ollie Jokinen

-Jay Bouwemeester

and that both players' careers took a huge jump in Martin's first season behind the bench. Bouwmeester went from 20 to 46 points, Jokinen from 58 to 89 points. What is equally noteworthy is that Jokinen's career went in the tank after leaving Martin (although admittedly the rot had set in in JM's last season in Florida, with a drop to 71 points). Bouwmeester had one more good year and then slid into what appears to be permanent mediocrity with Calgary. Further, the only Florida Panther to emerge after JM left was David Booth - and even that occured more as part of a logical career progression than as any evidence of his having been 'stifled' by Martin; so there is no evidence that Martin was undermining the development of any young Panthers, and some significant evidence that he handled the young talent very well indeed.

Jokinen actually broke out under Keenan - pre-Keenan he was a bust.

Bouwmeester reportedly hated Martin and did not want to remain in Florida.

You ommitted that Horton did nothing under Martin and from what I saw from the game in Europe with the Bruins, he looks like he may finally be the player everyone had hoped he would become. Ditto with Weiss, who has looked much better post-Martin.

If you look at his handling of the Habs' young players, you so far find

-a reluctance to give a lot of responsiblity to O'Bryne

-ongoing, patient attempts to bring along Kostitsyn, including defending him in the press

-a combination of carrots and sticks with Subban, demoting him after a bad game but also giving him tons of ice the moment it becomes apparent that Subban is responding with his 'A' Game

-patience, but not unlimited patience, with Pouliot

-a blunt willingness to play the best-performing goalie (Halak), with apparently good results for Price's development

Many point to JM's handling of OB as evidence of the former's incompetence with young players. What I'd suggest, based on the above analysis, is that JM simply doesn't think OB has the makeup to be a significant NHL regular. With other young players his message seems to be firm, consistent, and tolerably patient.

Say what you want about Martin. But I'm not sure the argument that he is bad at developing young talent can at all be sustained.

Martin went into training camp with an agenda to target SK74 it badly backfired and SK74 who was considered to have a pretty good attitude until the worst Scandal in Habs history that would shake the foundations of the habs (as stated by J. Demers - I can't friggin believe a guy who makes a statement like that was made a SENATOR by I need votes in Quebec Harper!!!!) and Martin's hard line approach. Did SK74 act like a immature prick - you bet. But the habs have a long history of forcing guys into the lineup like Ribeiro, Lats, MaxPax before they are ready and clearly lack the maturity and then wonder went wrong. With SK74 they themselves created the sense of entitlement in what originally appreared to be a pretty good kid. Then they laid down the hammer far too hard on him. On the ohter hand, a guy like Ryan White does everything expected of him, plays his heart out in camp - clearly outplayed and showed more hustle then Darche, Pyatt, Moen and Halpern - and he gets sent to the minors. I get the cap implications and that it is cheaper to have a guy like Darche then White, but it also sends the wrong message.

The handling of O'Byrne was disgraceful - especially when MAB was making mistakes much worse then O'Byrne at least 5 times a night. Everyone goes on about his 13 goals or how many ever it was that he scored, forgetting that he was directly responsible for at least twice that number in goals against.

His love of guys like Darche makes no sense and his constant experiment over the past year of G&G with Moen is beyond comprehension. Martin is was and always be a mediocore coach. The habs did the panthers a favor of releasing the panthers of his contract, otherwise, martin would have had to have been fired. Read what the Florida writers have to say about Martin - it ain't pretty!

Let's keep in mind in Martin's 20-25 years of coaching, last year was the FIRST successful playoff the guy had.

To top it off AK46 has been playing his heart out all year and was the #1 reason we won last night and what does Martin say - "he's playing for a contract". EVEN IF THAT IS TRUE - what kind of idiotic coach says something to guy who has a history of being soft and fragile, but is finally showing signs of putting it together?????? Yet a vetern like Cammy takes a bonehead suspension and then has a couple of games of taking incredibly stupid penalties and instead of trying to nip that type of undiscipline in the bud early in the season from a member of his "leadership core", he defends Cammy's bonehead actions and doesn't hold Cammy accountable. Similarly, Gomez took stupid undisiplined penalties with immunity numerous times last year and wasn't called out by his coach. Good coaches hold ALL players accountable, not just the kids that they can berate.

I knew it was impossible, because of the habs playoff success, but if we had a GM with any balls at all and some foresight, he would have fired Martin's ass.

Unfortunately the signing of the Penguin could end up being Gaineys lasting legacy to the future of the habs.

Edited by hab29RETIRED
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The one I'm most concerned about is Eller, and it's too early to say how their relationship will turn out. I do like that after benching him last night, he defended him to the media and said it was more the circumstances than Eller's play. Still, I'd like to see him given more of a chance after mistakes.

the biggest issue i have with the handling of Eller is the guys he is playing with. The guy is a SKILLED player with good vision. If he is going to be effective, he needs to play with guys that can complement him and help him progress, not with anchors that are going to hold him back and turn a top 6 prospect into a 4th line checker.

If both Pouliot AND Eller are going to 3rd/4th liners (which is incomprehensible, unless G&G are playing with a young guy with some sort of upside like Ryan WHite), then why not play them together??? Have a kid line with Pouliot/Eller/Laps, a'la the Gelina/Graves line in Edmonton. You have guys two guys that can score and pass and another who can score and grind.

Edited by hab29RETIRED
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It's not really fair the way you have assessed Redden.

You are inconsistent in your treatment of your comparisons directly related to your bias.

Redden had one great season with 50 points in 2005-06. That point total needs to be taken in context with

how the NHL changed coming out of the lockout. You have also discounted Redden scoring 36 and 47 points

and registering a +22 in the two seasons prior to Chara's arrival.

Removing the 30 PP season he had in 2005-06 his career was essentially a 35-45 point defenseman who

was a +20 1st pairing defenseman. In Chara's first season in Boston Redden put up a 46 point pace and lead

the Sens to the Stanley Cup Finals as their top defenseman. Even in 2008 he was a solid defenseman putting

up 36 points and a +11.

I don't really see a major spike with Chara's arrival or a massive decline with his departure. So you have kind

of manipulated that to fit your narrative.

You also dismissed everything that Hossa and Havlat accomplished in one sentence by devaluing their regular season

accomplishments through the mention of the playoffs even though Hossa had 16 points in 18 games in 2003.

You state that Jokinen broke out under Mike Keenan, not Martin. What is your definition of breaking out?

Under Keenan he produced a high of 65 points in 3 seasons, with Martin Jokinen's WORST season was 71 points.

Even removing the inflated totals from 2005-06 he still produced 91 points and 71 the next two seasons.

This is not consistent analysis. You are throwing in your pre-conceived notions to prove what you want and that

is that Martin cannot be credited for this because you do not like him.

Spezza may have turned into Daigle? Pure speculation on your part. I could say that Spezza may have turned into

Rick Nash had Martin stayed. It would be just as relevant but push forth an entirely different positive spin on the

speculation.

Bouwmeester "reportedly" hated Martin, once again leading your discussion in a manner that pushes

forth your anti-Martin agenda with absolutely zero proof or corroborating evidence.

Horton may be ready to "be the player everybody hoped he would be" in the games you saw in Europe? That

is Horton's MO. He has been showing flashes of being a dominant power forward for 3-4 years, but you speculate

that "this time" it looks to have taken even though he had 36 points in 37 games to start 2010. He had strong

starts in 2008 and 2007 under Martin only to return to being the enigma he always is.

Last year was his first playoff success? He lead the Sens within minutes of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003, losing

to the Devils late in Game 7, a team who would win the Stanley Cup.

You are blaming Martin for Sergei? Come on, Sergei was a problem before Martin and reacted like a giant child

when sent down in 2009.

I am note a huge fan of Martin's style, but it is obvious that you have allowed your personal bias to drive your response.

Edited by Wamsley01
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There is nothing wrong with Martin's handling of young players. Sergei, unfortunately for us, decided to check out of town and not act like a professional. That was all on him, even though he possessed the exact skill set that would have made him thrive under the coach. If anything, Sergei's career arc is fitting of too many of Montreal's personnel decisions in the past few years: bring him up as soon as he shows a little spark at the professional level, and make him deal with the inevitable downfall under the glaring eye of the Montreal public. We have to protect our players from the inconsistencies of professional development a lot better... keeping players in the AHL for longer is key. Eller and Subban are interesting cases.... at least both had a full year which put them on the All-Rookie team before coming up. Pyatt's rapid rise last year was surprising, but I guess we didn't know just how good defensively he was in Hartford before he came.

Martin's MO is to develop good, consistent NHL players. Not everyone will make it, obviously, but that's what his goal is.

The only reason this is really a relevant discussion is the inevitable Martin vs. Boucher debate. Unforutnately Martin probably viewed Boucher as a threat and didn't offer to have him come on board as an assistant when Perry Pearn and Kirk Muller were looking at other employment. I honestly think a Boucher for Muller switch would've been great for everyone involved.... but probably not for Martin's ego.

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There is nothing wrong with Martin's handling of young players. Sergei, unfortunately for us, decided to check out of town and not act like a professional. That was all on him, even though he possessed the exact skill set that would have made him thrive under the coach. If anything, Sergei's career arc is fitting of too many of Montreal's personnel decisions in the past few years: bring him up as soon as he shows a little spark at the professional level, and make him deal with the inevitable downfall under the glaring eye of the Montreal public. We have to protect our players from the inconsistencies of professional development a lot better... keeping players in the AHL for longer is key. Eller and Subban are interesting cases.... at least both had a full year which put them on the All-Rookie team before coming up. Pyatt's rapid rise last year was surprising, but I guess we didn't know just how good defensively he was in Hartford before he came.

Martin's MO is to develop good, consistent NHL players. Not everyone will make it, obviously, but that's what his goal is.

The only reason this is really a relevant discussion is the inevitable Martin vs. Boucher debate. Unforutnately Martin probably viewed Boucher as a threat and didn't offer to have him come on board as an assistant when Perry Pearn and Kirk Muller were looking at other employment. I honestly think a Boucher for Muller switch would've been great for everyone involved.... but probably not for Martin's ego.

Hey you never know. Muller could be better than Boucher when the dust settles. Everyone loves him, and they sure talk about him a lot when there is success. This could be a blessing. Under Coach Martin and considering a few of this team's weaknesses, sometimes the safe game is the best game. I don't particularly like it, but I would like to be optimistic and hope that Martin can keep this train on the tracks. IMAGINE THE HEADLINES IN MONTREAL AFTER A 6-0 TROUNCING! After the Edmonton 7-2 loss a few years ago, I didnt hear the end of it! Wide open offensive hackey comes with a price! Especially in this division and especially with our slow defense. I am not ready to crown Boucher with the Jack Adams yet, just because his team beat ours by one goal. Having said that. I was very impressed with what I saw of his team.

Anyway. He's gone now. We have a pretty good, young, coach in the system. Muller. Gauthier better think of how to keep him on board!

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