In a surprising move, Jacques Martin was fired this morning by Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier. While there has been a consistent call for his termination from fans almost since the day he was hired, the Canadiens seemed to be happy with what Martin brought to the table until now.
The team was clearly under-performing lately, however a large portion of blame for that could easily be put on a multitude of injuries. The Habs have been the most injured team in the NHL this season in both man-games lost and CHIP, which calculates how much salary is on the shelf each game.
In many ways this looks like a panic move by the organization after the Canadiens have failed to make a significant push since winning 4 straight games in October.
There were hints that this might happen however. Early in the season Martin had been benching Gauthier's two prize signings in Alexei Emelin and Erik Cole. While that has changed recently, there was a bit of a feeling of differing philosophy between coach and GM.
Regardless of the reasoning, the Canadiens have decided to hand the reins to Randy Cunnyworth on an interim basis. This may be surprising to many as Cunnyworth does not speak French. This decision may be a precursor to the Canadiens moving away from the self-restraint of hiring bilingual coaches, or it could be a stop-gap measure which gives them until the summer to find a suitable candidate.
Canadiens official press release:
MONTREAL – The Canadiens have announced that Jacques Martin has been relieved of this duties.
Randy Cunneyworth is named interim head coach of the Montreal Canadiens until the end of the season.
Larry Carrière becomes assistant coach.
Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier will meet the media after the team morning skate today.