The Penguins are referring to Jacques Martin’s role with the team next season as Pittsburgh’s “eye in the sky.”
The club announced Tuesday that Martin, who was previously in an advisory role to GM Jim Rutherford and an assistant coach with the Penguins, will be Pittsburgh’s special assistant to the head coach and watch games from the press box and deliver analysis to coach Mike Johnston during each contest. He’ll also be pre-scouting for the Penguins, something he had already been doing prior to his new role.
“We are excited to have Jacques Martin back as part of our staff for next season,” Johnston told the Penguins website. “Last year, Jacques was primarily responsible for all the pre-scouts. This season he will take on an expanded role as an eye in the sky for games and provide post-game analysis while also continuing with pre-scouting duties.”
So, what exactly does a special assistant entail? According to Martin, he'll be offering a different perspective on the game.
“Coming down between periods to give feedback of what I see upstairs, on our players, our system, our execution,” he told Sam Kasan of the Penguins’ website. “So in-between periods as well as after games and in between games giving my analysis to Mike (Johnston). Another voice, looking at the game from upstairs versus the bench.”
It’s not an altogether new idea to have a coach watching from above to deliver some information about the game, but there aren’t many coaches watching from the press box that have as much experience as Martin. Martin was the Jack Adams Award winning in 1998-99 – he has been nominated four times – as the Ottawa Senators’ bench boss and coached nearly 1,300 regular season NHL contests, racking up a record of 613-481-119-81.
Before landing with the Senators, where he spent nine seasons, Martin was the coach of the St. Louis Blues the late 1980s, and following his time in Ottawa served as coach of the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens. He has also served as an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks, Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche. He also worked at two Olympic tournaments in 2002 and 2006, winning gold as an assistant at the Salt Lake City Olympics in ’02.
The closest Martin has come to winning a Stanley Cup as a head coach was in 2002-03, when the Senators came one game away from defeating the New Jersey Devils to advance to the final. He did, however, pick up a Cup victory as an assistant with the Avalanche. Now the Penguins are hoping that Martin’s experience in every facet of the organization can help put the team back into Cup contention this upcoming season.
“My knowledge of the team being there in a full time position, knowing a lot of the personnel, having seen a lot of our prospects, being able to give info on our prospects is another area I can contribute,” Martin told the Penguins site. “I have a close relationship with Jim. The evaluation of our personnel. Similar to what I’ve done most of my career.”
The New York Rangers eliminated the Penguins from the post-season in five games in the first round, which is yet another disappointing finish to the season for Pittsburgh.