Welcome Coach Muller
Posted By: Aaron Sims
“A player should want to—should strive to—be asked by his coach to step up and take on these responsibilities.”
That’s what smart, confident players believe. That’s a statement fans can get behind.
Nashville President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile said in announcing Muller’s hiring as the new bench boss for Milwaukee today, “Kirk Muller was everything we were looking for in our development coach. With his playing pedigree, experience as a captain and Stanley Cup winner, and his solid communication skills, we feel our young players and prospects are in great hands.”
Muller, 45 (2/8/66), has spent the past five seasons as an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens, helping them reach the playoffs in each of the past four campaigns, and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010. He is credited for transforming a Habs penalty killing unit that has finished in the top half of the League each season since his arrival, including a seventh-place ranking in 2010-11. The Canadiens did not give up a power-play goal in their seven 2011 postseason contests, going 21-for-21.
In a conference call earlier today, Muller spoke of how excited he was to come to Milwaukee. He said he initiated the contact with Poile about ten days ago and Paul Fenton took over from there and really was “aggressive, in a good way.” He went on to say he was impressed with how he and Fenton would call and have questions for one another. He also said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz gave him a ring to sell him on the Predators. He said Lane Lambert was a resource and Steve Begin gave a glowing recommendation of the culture and players.
I can’t think of a bigger “name” to come to the Admirals, ever. This is no disrespect to other coaches and players that have come and gone over the years, most of whom have enjoyed great success in Milwaukee. Muller has been an all-star, Stanley Cup winner and Olympian. He was the second overall pick in the 1984 draft behind some guy named Mario Lemieux. Nobody that has come to this franchise has forged a better hockey resume on his way INTO Milwaukee.
Muller has never been to Milwaukee. He will move here with his wife and their two daughters.
A personal note…Muller was the center on my favorite line in hockey with Aaron Broten on the left wing and Pat Verbeek on the right while with the Devils. When I was in eighth grade, I got a Devils T-shirt at the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, MN. It was because of that line.
Another personal note…Todd Richards was my favorite player when I was growing up watching the University of Minnesota. I worked with him. The first NHL game I attended, Lane Lambert played against the North Stars. Now I get to work with the center on my favorite line. I should point out I also like big piles of money. Maybe I’ll get to work with that, too.
Muller has been linked to nearly every NHL opening this past offseason. He said he interviewed with Ottawa, Minnesota and Dallas and also spoke with New Jersey. That’s why I never thought he’d be a candidate for Milwaukee, let alone the next head coach.
The candidates I listed in a previous blog were legitimate. Many of them were given interviews with Nashville. So, to a degree, the Muller appointment comes from left field.
His contract being up in Montreal, Muller was looking for a head job. The commonly held belief is Muller lacked head coaching experience, so teams went with what they had, i.e. Mike Yeo and Glen Gulutzan. Promoting the fellow that already knows your players and has developed your young talent is more comfortable for GMs than bringing in an outsider who may have a great resume but hasn’t worked with your kids, or you, the GM.
Now, being a successful NHL player doesn’t necessarily translate into being a great head coach.
But, by all accounts, Muller is a winner and, as mentioned before, an extremely effective communicator.
Darren Eliot of Sports Illustrated wrote last spring (2010): “I've noticed Muller's seemingly growing in-game role behind the bench. Head coach Jacques Martin routinely chats with Muller, and when the team gathers at the bench, it is Muller, not Martin, who addresses the players and draws up late-game plays. This speaks volumes about Martin as a leader and his ability to delegate. It also points to Muller as a rising star in the coaching ranks. Several of the team's tactical changes have sprung from him during the first two rounds of the playoffs, including going with a shorter bench late in the series upset of Washington and changing the neutral zone/defensive zone regroup late in the series against defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh.”
Montreal defenseman Hal Gill was quoted in the Toronto Star (February 2011), saying about Muller, “He’s good at connecting with guys, trying to get the most out of guys. . . . Every coach talks about the system, but he’s good at relaying how the system can work for each individual player.”
Here’s a video
of Muller serving as a motivational speaker to a group of sales professionals.
Muller has big skates to fill, but he’ll have the resources to do the job. Plus, he has an outstanding coach, Ian Herbers, serving as his assistant.
This is a very exciting day for this organization.
With little surprise, it was announced today the Chicago Wolves are now the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. Canucks President and General Manager Mike Gillis said in a release, “The Canucks have placed great importance and resources in developing prospects and have seen positive results to date, including the likes of Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler and Chris Tanev. The two organizations will work closely to ensure our goals are one in the same and continue to work on developing a strong relationship with our prospects.” The Wolves and Canucks will work together to find a new coach. Had former Admirals coach Claude Noel not been appointed the Winnipeg Jets head coach, Noel would have been the coach of the Wolves. How would that have hit you?
The Phoenix Coyotes have announced a minimum-five year deal for the Portland Pirates to serve as the NHL club’s AHL affiliate. Good guy Ray Edwards will remain as head coach, the seventh in Portland Pirates history.
The following players will be participating in Nashville’s development camp which begins tomorrow: Taylor Beck, Gabriel Bourque, Zach Budish, Patrick Cehlin, Joel Champagne, David Elsner, Ryan Flynn, Jani Lajunen, Michael Latta, Jack MacLellan, Nick Oliver, Joonas Rask, Ben Ryan, Craig Smith, Austin Watson, Taylor Aronson, Victor Bartley, Anthony Bitetto, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Jeff Foss, Roman Josi, Charles-Olivier Roussel, Chet Pickard and Jeremy Smith. Some others may be added after last weekend’s draft, including top pick Magnus Hellberg.
Check out the Predators website
. There are video interviews with a couple draft picks, including Hellberg, and comments from scouts, David Poile and Paul Fenton.
Michael Russo of the Star Tribune writes the finalists for the Houston Aeros head coaching vacancy are former Admirals forward Gary Agnew, Trent Yawney & Ryan McGill. All three have an abundance of head coaching experience.