Jacques Martin

PHT Morning Skate: Four Blues players, one coach test positive for COVID-19; Future for Rask

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit for the PHT Morning Skate? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Blues players test positive for COVID-19, and other return-to-play issues for NHL teams

• Four Blues players and one coach tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the team to cancel practices late last week. It sounds like the Blues will attempt to resume activities on Monday. [According to various reporters, including Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

• Beyond trying to start things back up, what’s next? Lou Korac of NHL.com reports that the Blues players who tested positive for COVID-19 are likely to miss the beginning of formal training camps (aka “Phase 3”). [Korac on Twitter]

Last Monday, the NHL announced that 26 players (15 of at least 250 who participated in Phase 2; 11 who weren’t participating in activities and team facilities) tested positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 began on June 8. This bumps the player count to at least 30 during Phase 2.

• Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan recently said that assistant Jacques Martin is expected to be a full participant during the potential NHL return. Plenty of coaches are at a noteworthy age, considering the heightened risks for serious complications from COVID-19 for older people. At 67, you’d understand if Martin decided not to participate, or to scale back in some way. That’s not the case, at least according to Sullivan. [Pittsburgh Hockey Now]

Other hockey links

• Some early thoughts on the proposed changes to how the CBA works as the NHL and NHLPA work to hash out an extension. [Blue Seat Blogs]

• Jim Matheson believe that it is “big gulp” time for prospective NHL free agents. Go ahead and scratch off some 7-Eleven jokes, then read up on the predicament many are in. [Edmonton Journal]

• Last week, PHT evaluated how the Kings might use the No. 2 pick of the 2020 NHL Draft. While we discussed a few scenarios, the piece focused quite a bit on Quinton Byfield vs. Tim Stutzle. Mayor’s Manor goes deep on that comparison, too, and adds a wrinkle: assessing Lucas Raymond as the possible second pick of the 2020 NHL Draft, too. [Mayor’s Manor]

• Speaking of going deep, Joe Haggerty breaks down what the future might look like for Tuukka Rask. With retirement sounding unlikely any time soon, what happens after Rask’s contract expires following the 2020-21 season? The Bruins could extend Rask as soon as this summer, but there’s a lot of cap uncertainty going on right now. [NBC Sports Boston]

• As far as Finnish hockey has come, Aatu Raty has a chance to break new ground. Could he be the first Finnish player to go first overall? It’s a long way until the 2021 NHL Draft, but Mark Masters spoke with Raty about the possibility. [TSN]

• Did the David Clarkson contract set the stage for the Maple Leafs to turn things around? For all we know, it may have accelerated certain processes, such as hiring Brendan Shanahan, who cleaned house of many of the people who … well, thought that Clarkson contract was a good idea. [Leafs Nation]

• Kevin Kurz shares the fascinating story of Ned Colletti. “MLB GM to NHL scout” isn’t a common career path, so expect an uncommon story. [The Hockey News]

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Martin rejoins Pens’ coaching staff as special assistant to Johnston

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Jacques Martin will have a new role with the Pittsburgh Penguins next season the club announced on Tuesday.

Martin will now be a special assistant to head coach Mike Johnston.

During the 2014-15 season Martin was a part of the Pens’ coaching staff in a scouting and advisory role. The 62-year-old was in charge of pre-scouting opponents and providing the coaching staff with opponent’s tendencies, strengths and weaknesses.

“One is personnel, on players, some strengths and areas that we can exploit on certain players,” Martin said of his role last season. “The second component is looking at the team’s play, systems and what we can to do to counteract that.”

Martin will continue to pre-scout opponents next season, but will do it via video.

His new role will be to analyze games from the media level and provide instant analysis to Johnston and his assistants on the bench.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Martin said. “I have a good relationship with the coaching staff and management. Being closer to the team and provide feedback, use my experience from over the years, just giving them another opinion.”

Martin joined the club as an assistant coach in 2013-14 on Dan Bylsma’s staff. Last season his official title was senior advisor of hockey operations.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, assistant coaches Gary Agnew and Rick Tocchet will remain on the bench with Johnston.

Pens make Johnston hiring official, name Rick Tocchet assistant

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The Pittsburgh Penguins made the hiring of Mike Johnston as the new head coach official this afternoon and with it there are more changes behind the bench.

The Penguins have hired Rick Tocchet to assist Johnston behind the bench and Tony Granato and Todd Reirden have been let go. Those two assisted Dan Bylsma and now with Johnston in charge, he’s bringing in a new group of assistants with one more coach to be hired. Assistant coach Jacques Martin’s role with the team is yet to be determined and goaltending coach Mike Bales will return.

Tocchet was last seen behind the bench with the Tampa Bay Lightning as the team’s head coach from 2008-2010. Now he’ll make his return to action coaching Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang among others alongside Johnston.

“Rick is going to be a very valuable member of the staff here ,” Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said. “He was an outstanding NHL player, a guy who brought toughness and intensity every night along with a high level of skill. The fans in Pittsburgh know that first-hand. He also gained great experience as a coach with three different NHL organizations. We all know he’s got a lot to offer in his new role with the Penguins.”

Tocchet was also an assistant with the Lightning, Colorado Avalanche, and Phoenix Coyotes.

Add Jacques Martin to list of Canucks coaching candidates

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The list of candidates to be the next head coach of the Vancouver Canucks continues to grow.

Renaud Lavoie of RDS reports former Montreal Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin has interviewed for the job in Vancouver. Martin joins a list featuring John Tortorella, Kings assistant John Stevens, and up until he was hired by Edmonton, Dallas Eakins.

Martin last coached during the 2011-2012 season with the Montreal Canadiens when he was fired mid-season by then Habs GM Pierre Gauthier. Since 1995-1996, Martin has coached three teams: Montreal, Florida for three seasons, and Ottawa for eight-plus seasons.

Aside from Eakins, it appears Canucks GM Mike Gillis is gunning for someone with NHL experience to replace Alain Vigneault. Perhaps the talk of the Canucks’ Stanley Cup window closing has everything to do with that.

Jacques Martin joins Swiss league’s Lugano

Longtime NHL coach and GM Jacques Martin is back behind the bench…though this time, it’s not in North America.

Martin has agreed to join HC Lugano of the National League “A” — the top flight of Swiss hockey — as a coaching consultant, the Lugano website reports.

While details of his appointment are fuzzy (due to the Google translate), it sounds like Martin will join the Lugano staff to help head coach Larry Furas while assistant Patrick Fischer is away coaching Switzerland at the World Junior tournament in Ufa, Russia.

The move to Lugano will reunite Martin with a pair of ex-players: Glen Metropolit, who played for Martin in Montreal and Brett McLean, who played for him in Florida.

Lugano also currently employs two locked-out NHLers — Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Anaheim’s Luca Sbisa.

Martin, 60, was fired by Montreal 32 games into the 2011-12 season after taking the Habs to consecutive playoff appearances (including the Eastern Conference finals in 2010.)

He’s just one of nine NHL coaches to eclipse the 600 win plateau.

In Lugano, he’ll be joined by Dave Chambers, the former Quebec Nordiques head coach that has worked extensively in the Swiss league with Rappersil, Zurich and Langnau.