The Montreal Canadiens have a new interim head coach, and it is probably not a name you expected to see.
It is such an out of left field hire because St. Louis has no prior coaching experience (outside of youth hockey and a brief tenure as a special teams consultant with the Columbus Blue Jackets) and no connection to the Canadiens as a player.
“We are very happy to welcome Martin to the Canadiens organization,” general manager Kent Hughes said in a statement. “Not only are we adding an excellent hockey man, but with Martin we are bringing in a proven winner and a man whose competitive qualities are recognized by all who have crossed his path.”
The Canadiens currently have the NHL’s worst record and have made changes at GM and head coach this season. The roster also underwent major changes during the offseason following a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final last summer.
Jeff Gorton, currently the Canadiens’ Vice President of Hockey Operations, was an assistant GM with the New York Rangers when St. Louis played for the team at the end of his NHL career.
[Related: Canadiens fire head coach Dominique Ducharme]
St. Louis played 16 years in the NHL with the Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Rangers, scoring 391 goals and adding 642 assists for a total of 1033 points in 1134 games. He won two scoring titles, an MVP award, and was a key part of the Lightning’s 2003-04 Stanley Cup winning team. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player with the 2018 class.
At this point it is a hire that is nearly impossible to evaluate given that St. Louis has, quite literally, no track record as a coach. How his team will play, what his philosophy is, what he looks for as a coach are all completely unknowns to anyone outside of the people that actually interviewed him.
If nothing else you can say this for the Canadiens: They definitely did not go to the coaching recycling bin for this hire.