Jacques Martin steps away from Panthers bench
Florida has offered former coach chance to concentrate on front-office duties
Jacques Martin's shelf life as coach of the Florida Panthers ended at three years Friday, but he could retain his general manager duties.
Martin has been offered the chance to concentrate on his front office duties.
"Over the past few days both Jacques and I have spent significant time together discussing what is in the best interest of this franchise," team owner and chief executive officer Alan Cohen said in a statement.
"It is now up to Jacques to decide if he wants to remain with the club as our general manager, where he would continue to play a vital role in helping to ensure the future success of our organization."
The other two GM-coaches in the NHL, Ottawa's Bryan Murray and Atlanta's Don Waddell, also are expected to relinquish one role this off-season.
Martin, who reportedly is scouting the Panthers' American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., is expected to make his decision next week.
Martin, who filled both roles since the 2006-07 NHL season, guided the Panthers to a 38-35-9 record, good for 11th place in the Eastern Conference this season.
Florida went 37-34-11 (2005-06) and 35-31-16 (2006-07) in Martin's first two seasons behind the bench.
The Panthers haven't won a playoff series since 1996 and a playoff game since 1997. They haven't reached the post-season since 2000.
Cohen hired Martin, 55, as the ninth coach in franchise history on May 26, 2004, and he later took over the GM's portfolio from Mike Keenan, who resigned in September 2006.
Martin, who hails from St. Pascal, Ont., previously served as coach of the St. Louis Blues (1986-88) and Ottawa Senators (1995-2004).
He is Ottawa's all-time leader in games coached (692), wins (341), playoff games coached (69) and playoff wins (31).
There was pressure from ownership to make the playoffs, but the Panthers started slowly this season, with five losses in their first eight games, and kept playing erratically.
After losing six of seven games to close out February, Florida rallied in March for the third consecutive season, going 8-3-1, but again that wasn't enough.
There were also reports of a rift between Martin and captain Olli Jokinen, but they were scuttled by both parties.
With files from the Associated Press