Former Florida Panthers head coach and general manager Jacques Martin was "relieved of his coaching duties" by the Montreal Canadiens today. Assistant coach Randy Cunneyworth was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Cunneyworth was formerly head coach of the Rochester Americans and Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. Martin was brought in as head coach of the Panthers by former general manager Mike Keenan, following Martin's dismissal from the Ottawa Senators. His first season as coach was the season following the lockout, 2005-2006. In 2006, Keenan was fired following his trade of goaltender Roberto Luongo to the Canucks and Martin was given the general manager job in addition to his job as head coach. Martin's record with the Panthers was a dismal 110-100-36 over three seasons, with the Panthers missing the playoffs each year. At the end of the 2007-2008 season, Martin was relieved of his coaching duties but remained as general manager and, as such, hired his own replacement, Peter DeBoer. Martin bailed at the end of DeBoer's first season as coach to take his dream job, that of Canadiens head coach. His 96-75-25 record and appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season as head coach was better than his record in Florida, but with the team in obvious decline in the two following seasons (the Canadiens were 13-12-7 under Martin this season), he was let go.
The situation here is one that both Senators and Panthers fans expected. His coaching style worked well in the early days of the Senators franchise, with the team making the playoffs most years, but ultimately it created a boring defensive style of hockey and his team had little success in the playoffs. He employed the same style with even less success in Florida, and despite the Canadiens' appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season, the same was true there as well. This may have been Jacques Martin's last go around in the NHL as teams increasingly opt towards hiring coaches out of the AHL or the Canadian juniors leagues rather than bringing in older, experienced NHL coaches, especially ones who have never won a championship.