Fantasy Impact: The Montreal Canadiens have fired coach Jacques Martin. Randy Cunneyworth was named as the interim replacement. I wonder what Kirk Muller is thinking right now?
Martin's Style: To steal a line from Dobber and his column on the Terry Murray firing…. D-Fense! Boom Boom D-Fense! Boom Boom D-Fense! At the best of times, the Canadiens were a stifling defensive club who were opportunistic offensively (fancy word for inconsistent). At the worst of times, they were an awful offensive team with little in the way of relevant talent for fantasy hockey, outside of a few players.
Under Martin’s leadership for three seasons, the Habs were 19th, 13th, and 20th (this season) in goals per game, respectively. Not terrible, especially considering the average talent he had to work with. Martin’s structured system was a big part in how Montreal was able to make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final in 2010 (Jaroslav Halak also played some decent hockey from what I can recall).
Losing Muller to the ‘Canes was a big blow – he was integral in communicating Martin’s vision to the players (as any good assistant coach is).
Cunneyworth’s Style: The biggest thing Cunneyworth will bring to the position is a fresh perspective. He has been a head coach at the AHL level before (quite successfully, too). The hockey world is a really small one – Cunneyworth’s best season as a coach came with Rochester (Florida’s farm team) back in 2008, and at the time Florida’s GM was Martin.
He is also regarded as a great teacher with younger players. I’d be really happy about the move if I owned a young player on Montreal, at any position. Martin was a veteran’s coach, and young players often had to do more than earn their ice time before receiving it.
The impact on key players
I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that Martin did not see eye-to-eye with many Habs players, most notably mercurial winger Andrei Kostitsyn. Martin seemed to have his favorites (as all coaches do), and he liked to play them often. Mathieu Darche immediately jumps to mind.
In general, this move will help all of Montreal’s offensive players (Cammalleri and Plekanec most notably). Erik Cole is starting to roll right now, and I don’t think this move has much of an effect on him.
Last but definitely not least – how will this affect Carey Price? On one hand, the Habs played a really strong defensive game in front of him. On the other hand, he didn’t usually receive a ton of goal support. Price is one of the best goalies in the world, and either way I don’t think this changes his fantasy value all that much (for better or worse).