Kirk Muller has apparently run out of NHL head coaching options. So, what now?
All of them have been filled or, are about to be.
And now Muller has to make a decision. Does he return to the Canadiens where he has done excellent work as one of Jacques Martin’s assistants, or look elsewhere? There’s little doubt in my mind the Canadiens would love to have him back. But one of the reasons every team passed on Muller is his lack of professional head coaching experience. (His only headcoaching experience was a 24 game stint with a bad Queen’s University team) I was of the opinion that when Guy Boucher moved from the Hamilton Bulldogs to Tampa Bay last year, Muller would have been better served taking over the Hamilton head coaching job that was eventually given to Randy Ladouceur.
So now, everyone has passed on Muller. It’s reported in Dallas that the Stars, which seemed to be Muller’s best shot, will be promoting Glen Gulatzen the coach of their Austin Texas farm team. Ottawa will announce tomorrow the hiring of Paul MacLean. Florida has already hired Kevin Dineen and rather than risking a repeat of the John MacLean fiasco, New Jersey will probably turn to Ken Hitchcock. Winnipeg will replace Craig Ramsey with Manitoba Moose head coach Claude Noel.
Which brings us back to Muller. I have no doubt, with experience, he will make an excellent NHL head coach. I’ve been impressed with his intelligence and competitiveness since I first saw him play at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo. Three months later Muller was taken second behind Mario Lemieux in the NHL’s entry draft. He was the best player on a very bad Devils team and then produced two 35 goal season and a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens.
One of the problems for former star players is the lack of desire to go back and ride the buses I the minor leagues.
Unless Muller wants to make a career of being an assistant coach, he is going to have to make the sacrifice.