If you can’t tell by the headline, I have a lot of topics to catch up on.
1) First things first, I want to give an unqualified thumbs up to the hiring of Kirk Muller as Milwaukee’s new head coach. Yes, its obvious that Muller is here to fill in the final piece of his resume to become an NHL coach. If Lou Lamoriello did not just got burned by an inexperienced coach, Muller likely would have become the new bench boss of the New Jersey Devils.
I have a feeling that Muller will likely be coaching Montreal in a few seasons, whenever the shine of the Canadiens 2010 miracle playoff run wears off from Jacques Martin, and Habs fans get sick of his boring style. I would expect Muller to be in Milwaukee for two years at maximum if he has any success.
I have no issue with that fact. Muller’s pedigree and resume blew away any other options for a new coach in Milwaukee, and just listening to some of his comments and seeing the broad smiles on his face makes it clear to me that Muller really wanted this gig. Muller was a longtime and well respected captain in the NHL and that should make for an excellent coach (no guarantees of course). I was always impressed by his assistant work in Montreal.
My only qualms are that Muller lacks any AHL history and has never even been to Milwaukee. No matter what my favorable impressions are of the Brew City, Milwaukee will be an incredible change of pace from one of the epicenters of the hockey world–Montreal. Maybe that is a good thing. But 3,000 fans on a week night is nothing like 21,000 screaming crazies at Bell Centre. I love going to AHL and Admirals games, but its hard to compare minor league rinks to one of the best atmospheres for hockey in the NHL. If Milwaukee gets off to a slow start, will Muller buckle under the weight? He surely must know that 2 or 3 decent seasons should earn him a head gig in the NHL.
2) The great news for Muller is that if he has any issues, he can turn to Lane Lambert or Barry Trotz for guidance. Both were successful coaches in the AHL, so they are great resources.
I for one could not be happier for Lane Lambert and his promotion to the NHL. I thought he was an excellent AHL coach, and one that deserved an NHL head coaching position. Moving up to be an assistant coach in the NHL should fill in the only drawback remaining on Lambert’s resume.
I would like to wish a hearty congratulations to Lambert and his family.
3) I will be brief with this point, especially since the Admirals roster will likely see plenty of changes in the coming days, but I am excited that Teemu Laakso was resigned. Sorry to see Brett Palin go, but with the roster additions and draft moves I think room will be limited on the Milwaukee blueline. I wasn’t terribly impressed with Nashville’s draft, but then again throw in Mike Fisher as one of the team’s picks and things start looking up.
4) Though I don’t work in Nashville’s marketing department I have no idea why the team decided to make a jersey switch. Why mess with a good thing? I thought Nashville had very sharp jerseys in the past and they sure looked great when they were beating Anaheim in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
5) The Preds Qualifying offer snafu could have drastic consequences for both Nashville and Milwaukee. I would be surprised to hear that David Poile and Paul Fenton didn’t do everything by the book, but with all the coaching changes maybe something got missed. But for an organization that has a limited budget, having to give early raises to players that weren’t scheduled for them could effect the whole organization and leave the development cupboard bare. All signs seem to point to this blowing over as a moot point, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on.
That is it for now for me as I look forward to my annual Fourth of July summer vacation. When I post next, hopefully I will have positive things to write about Nashville/Milwaukee’s performance in free agency.