Jacques Martin to Canadiens and fallout in Florida: The Story So Far

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The Jacques Martin lovefest from Montreal rolls on in grand form, evidenced by the constant click of camera shutters (they still have those?) and numerous questions in French from what, audibly speaking, sounded like, and should be expected: a packed room.

All manner of subjects have been covered by Martin and his new boss, GM Bob Gainey, regarding the near-future of the Habs and their on-ice expectations, player movements, etc. Other than a mention of Jay Bouwmeester - in French, so I haven't a clue what the focus was - no one at the Bell Centre is too terribly concerned with the Florida Panthers. And it ain't their problem.

THE WHAT

The Montreal Canadiens have hired now-former Florida Panthers general manager Jacques Martin to be their head coach going into the 2009-10 season.

THE WHY

Martin:  "This opportunity to come back to my roots, a French-Canadian who knows the passion that exists in that market. Been in Ottawa, both French and English where hockey is a religion. To get back in this kind of market, where fans are so committed and passionate. Its a great opportunity to work in this."

Bruce Garrioch, Sun Media:  League sources say Martin has stepped down from his post as GM of the Florida Panthers because of the financial instability of the club and the possibility they may be sold.

Come to your own conclusions, but I'm leaning toward Martin's answer as being closer to the truth. Unless Malkin indeed goes to the Kings.

THE HOW

Martin was signed by the Panthers as their general manager through 2011-12. That contract has been voided by Florida, requiring no compensation, cash or otherwise, from either the Canadiens or Martin himself. Essentially, they allowed him to leave freely.

Panthers president Michael Yormark granted permission to the Habs "approximately ten days ago" to speak with the then-GM.  "The Canadiens asked for permission to speak with Jacques. We talked to Jacques, granted that permission and that was the terms of the deal."

Must be some cozy relationship he had with owner Alan Cohen.

WHERE DO THE PANTHERS PRESENTLY STAND?

Minus a general manager. Not something an organization wants at any point in the year but the Entry Draft is three weeks away. Free Agency follows on July 1st. Not to mention the RFA status of leading goal scorer David Booth, the UFA status of both Bouwmeester and Craig Anderson, and a handful of other pressing items. A GM is routinely helpful for stuff like that.

The team has stated alternate governor (and Day One Panther) Bill Torrey will coordinate with current assistant general manager Randy Sexton in a search for Martin's replacement. Presumably president Michael Yormark and head coach Peter DeBoer will also be heavily relied upon for input, but Torrey is probably the most important link.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Sexton is an automatic candidate due to his knowledge of the club at present and the needs of the scouting staff along with attention that must be paid to the affiliates in Rochester and Estero (Everblades).

No names have been publicly mentioned by the team from outside of the organization, but one intriguing individual is Jay Feaster, the ex-Lightning GM who was on the losing end of a power struggle in Tampa Bay one year ago when new ownership moved in.

I'd be skeptical leaving Sexton (whose past managerial successes demand quotes around them) in place, as he was hand-picked by JM and undoubtedly shares in his defensive mentality (on the ice, that is). 

Robert at Habs Eyes on the Prize is on the case as well, so be sure to stop over for the Montreal side of the story.

Your choices? Comments? Rage? Excitement? Let's hear it.

 

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