As we continue through the candidates that Mike Russo has reported being interviewed by the Wild, we are bound to come across a couple names that quite simply have no chance at the job. While Kirk Muller is a good coach, and the fact he got an interview means the Wild have at least a small interest in him, it is simply unlikely they go with him. If they want an unproven gamble, they go with Yeo.
Still, he is in the mix, and we're going to take a look at who he is. For this, we turn to Bruce Peter from SBNation's Habs Eyes on the Prize and Puck Worlds (one of my favorite hockey blogs). If you would like to know more about Mr. Muller, make the jump.
HW: What role does he currently fill with the Habs?
Bruce Peter: I believe his responsibilities are the forwards (he's definitely not the D coach), but he's also quite involved in the special teams. He's coached Montreal's PK unit for several years now, both under Carbonneau and Martin. He was the only coach in the entire organization who was not fired after the 2008-09 disaster, and that's including all the AHL coaches.
HW: What does his system looks like? Is he defense first (Lemaire-like) or something else?
BP: He's never had his own system to implement... he was only a head coach once, at the CIAU level (Canadian university), and that was only for one year. He's coached under Carbonneau's "I have no fucking clue what's going on" system and Martin's more rigid trapping/puck possession system. As a player he was both an All-Star and a grinder later in his career. Based on his PK work, he's big on shot blocking, and is willing to use premier offensive players in defensive situations. Also, he is the guy who draws up plays for the Habs when they call timeouts... Martin hardly talks to the players, he defers completely to Muller for the drawing board.
HW: What does his accountability look like? In other words, how does he get players to buy in?
BP: He's played a bit of the 'good cop' role in Montreal under Martin. Martin kept him on staff from Carbo's group because he wanted an ex-player on staff to be an effective communicator to the team. While Martin does the yelling about detail, Muller is the positive reinforcement guy. He's often talking to players during the games after they've made mistakes.
HW: Would Mueller be a good fit in Minnesota?
BP: The rumor is that he'll be headed to Dallas very soon, so this may be futile, but I think he'd do well in Minnesota. He's popular with the media here, a very strong communicator, and I think his stature would command a lot of respect. That being said, I could see Minnesota doing better with a veteran coach after the Richards experiment.
HW: Is Muller ready to be a head coach? Why or why not?
BP: There was talk last year that Muller needed more head coaching experience to get a NHL job, that he should go the AHL and be a bench boss there first. He's a great assistant by all accounts. Does that make for a great head coach? Not always. I think he's got the leadership qualities to do the job, and he obviously has a vast knowledge of tactics to draw from. You can never be 100% sure, obviously, but I think he's as ready as an ex-player assistant NHL coach can be.
Also to be noted on Mr. Muller from Bruce: He was drafted 2nd overall after Mario, won a Cup (93 Habs), was an All-Star, and played for 19 years in the NHL, enough time to witness both the North Stars and the Wild.
Editor's Note: I do not mean for the lede to suggest that Mr. Muller is not qualified to be the head coach of the Wild. I just don't think they would go outside the organization to select a rookie head coach. He's a dark horse candidate, and one that deserved the interview. As Bruce mentioned, he is likely headed to Dallas, so this may all be spitting into the wind.
Thank you to Bruce for taking the time to answer these questions and letting us get to know Mr. Muller a little through him. Make sure you check out Puck Worlds. It is seriously one of the best hockey blogs on the web.